The spectacular mesas and colorful fossilized wood of Petrified Forest
National Park, in northeastern Arizona, served as a backdrop to big
changes recently. Most RVers breeze through the Painted Desert on
Interstate 40 and miss out on the newly expanded park and its renovated
Painted Desert Inn Museum and Bookstore, a National Historic Landmark.
The charming 1920s-era inn reopened in May after being closed for 18
months for much-needed restoration. Rehabilitation work included careful
attention to the historic tin work originally created by Civilian
Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s. In December 2004, legislation
was passed that will soon expand the size of the park by 125,000 acres
to protect significant fossil records and archaeological sites.
Should you need more reasons to exit I-40, this national
treasure is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year with special
events and activities. The park’s 45-minute drive is inspiring. Allow at
least a half-day for stops; more if you like to hike. Look for
pronghorns along the way, as well as petroglyphs, ruins and some of the
world’s best petrified wood.
For more information, call (928) 524-6228, or visit nps.gov/pefo.