I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Painted Desert Arizona

At last I’m posting Joan’s much requested Painted Desert.

Bridge over Little Colorado River
When you cross the Little Colorado River at Cameron on Highway 89 North you enter the western edge of the Painted Desert.

Enter The Painted Desert
During the Early Triassic, about 250 million years ago, the mass of all continents known as Pangaea began to drift apart between North America and Africa.

The west coast of North America subsided into a flat plain and when sea levels rose these plains were covered with seawater. When the level dropped the exposed land was covered with a deposit of Kaibab limestone.

Because eastern North America had the highest mountainous land at the time, rivers flowed westward to the low coastal plains. The slow moving waters deposited mostly red mudstone and very fine-grained sandstone.

At the same time tidal flows deposited gray mudstone and tan limestone. All these layers represent the Moenkopi Formation.

During the Middle Triassic deposition stopped and erosion began possibly due to climate change, a drop in sea level or a slight uplift of the Colorado Plateau region.

In the late Triassic, about 215 million years ago, the region again subsided and stream deposits filled valleys and river cuts with sediment of very coarse-grained sandstone and pebble conglomerate known as the Shinarump Member of the Chinle Formation.

As rivers continued to dominate the landscape mudstones in shades of red, gray, brown, purple, tan, orange and pink were deposited as water flooded over the river banks.

In addition, ash from exploding volcanoes fell on the Chinle river plains and eventually decomposed to clay with oxidized iron and manganese that give the rocks more vivid color.

Echo Cliffs on right, note the tip of the hills on left
The Painted Desert is referred to by some Native Americans as a “land of sleeping rainbows.”
Native Americans sell arts & crafts along the road
Much of the Painted Desert region is located within the Navajo Nation. The Navajo and the Hopi people have lived in the region for at least one thousand years, however the modern name for the desert comes from the Spaniards who named it "el Desierto Pintado" due to its brightly colored landscape.

Vermilion Cliffs in distance & Echo Cliffs on right
From the flat plain of the Painted Desert I continued up Echo Cliffs towards Page and the Glen Canyon Dam. Hope you’ll come back for more of the journey.


Karen said...

i don't know the geology of the land, but I do know this is one of the most beautiful places on earth. it is so amazing, and looks different around every turn of the road. Can't wait to see it again.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! As anyone every told you you are wonderful! :) HUGS!!

This is a fantastic post Gaelyn. What brilliant information and pics you have here.

I prefer "land of the sleeping rainbows" as that is exactly what it looks like to me. This has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Those colors are out of this world.

dowhatyoulove said...

The Painted Desert is so beautiful! All the different colours are so magical!

I really love those little booths along the roads that the Native Americans sell crafts at, you can find some great little treasures there (even though a lot of it is very much the same)

Natural Moments said...

"land of the sleeping rainbows" I like this name too. It also implies to me that something magical will awaken and manifest here someday. The varied and unique ingredients will someday come together to evolve into something never seen or experienced before.

Erin said...

i so enjoy these posts through some of my favorite parts of the united states. i have traveled these roads many times over the years and never tire of the beauty of the landscape. beautiful...

Diane C. said...

Beautiful and informative. Enjoyed this post. I thought the clouds looked dream-like in many of the photos.

Janie said...

You're a great tour guide, explaining the geological formations. Beautiful photos.

dAwN said...

Great information. You are a wealth of knowledge!

disa said...


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