In 2012, I was looping through Arizona on the back end of a ride to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Immediately before that I was in Moab Utah doing some desert riding in triple digit heat. Not sure what happened but by the time I got to Arizona I had physically bombed out. I'd been on the road over 30 days straight at that point so I just rolled on home. The total ride was 12,500 miles over 36 days. Then just this summer, I was in Colorado (the Pikes Peek Ride) heading for Arizona when I got called to Texas on a family matter. Upon resolution, I ended up heading back home. So with this trip, I finally wanted to get my need to ride Arizona taken care of once and for all.
Basically, the ride is in three parts covering:
Petrified Forest National Park
The Grand Canyon
The Superstition Mountains
The Apache Trail
Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park
One of the great things about the National Parks is that they're all set up perfectly to tour from the Saddle. Take you're helmet and jacket off and just roll around. I'd previously been to Canyon Lands, Arches and Zion and each can be made into a full day event. The Painted Desert/Petrified Forest was the same thing except on a little of a smaller scale. Still awesome!
The north side of the Park is the Painted Desert. It's called "Painted" because of the magnificent colors. Looks like just plain desert in the photos? Well, that's just my camera. If you go and see for yourself, you'll be amazed at the spectrum of colors (same with the Grand Canyon btw).
Painted Desert Visitor Center and Diner.
Interestingly, part of Historic Route 66 used to go right through the Park.
Truth of the matter, the petrified wood is everywhere and once you've seen one piece of petrified wood, you've seen it all. In addition, there are scores of road-side souvenir shops in all directions from the park that sell all sizes of petrified wood. It really doesn't come across as that rare in these parts. However, I'm going to say that the Petrified Forest is a great place to view some great desert scenery and well worth the ride.
Meteor Crater Park is a meteor impact crater located near Winslow, Arizona, about 40-50 miles west of Petrified Forest National Park.
As you approach the crater, you don't see a real high rim, which I was expecting. Rather, its a fairly low rim and a really deep hole in the ground. You may not agree with me that it's a low rim after you walk up it. :)
The park has a museum and some exhibits. Some of the exhibits involve astronaut training activities that have taken place at the crater over the years.
The crater itself is so massive that it's difficult to get the whole thing in one photo. This photo was taken on my cell phone which has a little wider angle.
This is a close up of the bottom. Not much down there other than the remains of years of digging for the meteor that was never located.