Just off the interstate between Santa Fe and Flagstaff lies Petrified Forest National Park. We drove through, Airstream in tow, stopping for a few run-hikes WITH Bugsy! Petrified Forest NP allows dogs on trails! The colors in the chunks of petrified wood scattered everywhere and in the Painted Desert were spectacular. It’s Bugsy’s favorite National Park so far (well, except Shenandoah, her home park). We ran through the surreal 1-mile Blue Mesa loop, and the fascinating 1.6-mile Long Logs trails, then walked Giant Logs which was less impressive and packed with fools who disregarded the signs instructing visitors to stay on the trails–these morons were boosting their children onto ancient fossils to pose for pictures.
The farther west we travel, the more excited this geology nerd gets. Surely everyone enjoys geological history? About 225 million years ago, the land the park is on was a subtropical plain located near the Equator. The trees that would become fossilized fell into streams and were buried by sediment containing silica from volcanic ash. When the trees were buried quickly enough, rather than being consumed by organisms, the organic matter in the trees was replaced by quartz crystals formed from the silica combined with minerals that gave the quartz colors. The fossil-containing layer was buried by other sediments over time, until about 60 million years ago when the Colorado Plateau was lifted by tectonic action, and as the upper layers eroded away, the colorful layer of fossilized trees was exposed.