Here’s what I don’t get: the Painted Desert covers thousands of acres, but doesn’t merit national park status on its own. Instead, it’s bundled like an afterthought into the Petrified Forest National Park. This is hard luck for the rainbow hills because there are a lot more of them than there are fossilized trees. I guess someone thought Petrified Forest was a cooler name.

We left Holbrook early so that we could take a short walk before the temperature rose to an unmanageable level. The Painted Desert is a lot like Grand Canyon but on a less dramatic scale. Same principle though; layers of differently colored materials deposited on top of one another then exposed by erosion. There was also some volcanic activity here as evidenced by a caldera. It’s in the first photo below. Can you spot it?

The Interpretative Center was closed without explanation. Heat? COVID-19?

Consider this but the briefest of introductions to the Painted Desert. We needed to get on the road to Santa Fe so only spent an hour or so in the park. We will visit again on our way back to Scottsdale. There may even be bonus photos of Jim Gray’s Rock Shop.

Speaking of bonus photos, here’s another motel along Route 66 in Holbrook that I had to show you.


  1. Passed by that motel in 2019, pretty interesting.
    I agree with your observation about the Painted Hills vs. The Petrified Forest. I’m sure politics played a part in that decision.
    Safe travels!

  2. I would rather be a painted pianist than a petrified pianist! Speaking of which . . .
    how are you getting your piano practicing in with all this traveling? Do you need
    another–a Southwestern–piano? Will your new boat have one built in?
    Just wondering!

    1. No second piano. I saw enough petrified Steinways during our Portland search. I shall deal with too little practice in the usual way: guilt.

  3. Ok, I think it’s almost required that you spend a night in the Wigman hotel and report back.

    1. I so agree. Not sure when we will pass that way again, maybe in the Fall if we visit Canyon de Chelly. In contrast to many other Holbrook motels, the Wigman looked full. Book ahead if you go and stop at El Rancho in Gallup the next night!

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