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The Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest.
This area is very reminiscent of the Badlands in South Dakota, one of my favorite places. This is actually two adjacent parks. The Petrified Forest is a national park, and the Painted Desert is a state park. A loop road runs through them both. There are several different varieties of landscape here, and the place really deserves more than the half day we had to visit here. 

Hello and welcome to the Petrified Forest, and to the Painted Desert.

Our friends, and somewhat constant companions, the Austrian motorcyclist, arrive in the park.

Park headquarters, which included the obligatory gift shop.

A look across the Painted desert, from one of the many vantage points within the park. It's plain to see how the Painted Desert got it's name.

A view out across the painted Desert landscape, from the terrace of the Petrified Forest park HQ. Normally, you can see for miles, with no apparent haze, as this is some of the purest air in the country. Unfortunately, during our visit, the tinderbox, which the silly clinton conservation policies made of the west, caught fire, and there were wild fires raging across the southwest.

A rustic rail skirts the edge of the high ground, adjacent to park headquarters. There are a number of scenic lookouts, and a variety of interpretive displays in the immediate area.

The iron oxide colored mounds of the Painted Desert.

A view past the folds of the painted Desert to a line of cliffs beyond.

A couple of views from the main viewing platform connected to park headquarters.

This view, from the ground in front of my feet, off into the distance, shows the haze which covered the whole area during our visit.

Wild sage grows in abundance, right up to the line of the walkways and parking lots.

The banded hills of the painted Desert, stratified remnants of a time when this was the bottom of an ancient sea.

Though we will pass through many dry areas on our travels, we will not be in true desert again, nor will we see this type of painted landscape, until we are well into Utah.

A look down the hill, and off into the distance, as the painted  formations fade into the haze.

The boundary between the dry grassland, and the lower plains which have turned to desert, is pretty clear.

A lonely little tree has survived to stand watch  over the collection of shrubs and grasses that rim the drier lands below.

Tourist go right up to the edge of the highlands, which bound the park. A short walk yields a breathtaking view.

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