This barren looking National Park is full of petrified wood: trees that lived over 225 million years ago and have become quartz rocks from minerals in silica-saturated waters seeping into and replacing the wood.
This produces some amazing colors such as seen in the chips above. Petrified wood collected from private land has been used to make incredible bookends, coffee tables, bolo ties, etc. Its heavy too, about 200 lbs per cubic foot.
A suitably colored lizard for a colorful log. This area is also rich in dinosaur fossils, dating from long ago, prior to the continents moving to their current positions. As illustrated by the fossils and large trees, this area was once a tropical environment. My how things move about and change given a 100 or 200 million years.
Lots of open space, not a lot of people. The car/camper in the above picture is back at the pull out for the loop trail I'm on.
some of the very few other people I saw during the day... [Park rangers and various people I ran into during my few days in the area said that visitation by americans is way down due to the economy and that main visitors right now are europeans. Of course, that also means its a great time to visit to avoid crowds, accommodation issues, and enjoy some solitude!]
Stay tuned for more pictures of the painted desert, rock art, and Canyon de Chelly.