Crystal Forest Trail
We started our visit off with a short hike along the Crystal Forest trail, which was easily accessible from the main road that works its way through the park. The name of the trail, of course, is pretty misleading. It is pretty much the farthest thing from a forest that there is. Long stretches of desert dotted with petrified wood were all that you could see for miles, save for one thin cliff breaking up the horizon.
I was actually surprised by just how interested I became in the petrified wood that was scattered around the park. The idea that this desert was at one point a lush forest was absolutely mind-blowing. And some of the pieces were just really beautiful.
Blue Mesa Loop
After getting our fill of petrified wood, we drove the Blue Mesa Loop and stopped at several viewpoints along the way to admire the badlands. This was probably my favorite part of the entire park. I probably stood and gazed out across the blue striped mesas in complete awe at how much our world has to offer us.
Our final stop along the way was at the Painted Desert, which was actually relatively underwhelming. We had already seen so much red rock while driving across Arizona. It was still completely beautiful, of course, so we had to stop at a coup viewpoints along the way.
All in all, I was really pleased with our short stop at Petrified Forest. I had no idea that there was so much to do there. I easily could have filled up a whole day there with hiking and exploring everything that the park has to offer!