Unfortunately for me this isn’t really a hiking sort of park. There were a couple of short trails but it seemed like one of those places were you drive through, stopping at pull offs to see a few things. A few minutes there, a couple of pictures here, on to the next. I read in their guide later that “off the beaten path” hiking is apparently OK in some places, but I had seen so many signs telling me to stay on the paved paths that it just got confusing. Anyway I never really know what to do in these kinds of places. Like am I supposed to dive out of the car to examine every single one of the bazillion petrified logs that are laying all over the place? They’re interesting, but they’re not THAT interesting.
There were some things that I DID find really interesting, like the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock and a handful of other pull offs.
The park is arranged as a 28 mile drive between the Painted Desert Visitor’s Center at the north end and the Rainbow Forest Museum at the south end. I started at the south end, but either way is fine.
I stayed about 20 miles away in Holbrook. It’s one of those desert towns with a profusion of Route 66 memorabilia and goofy dinosaur statues. (I loved it)
Route 66 was replace by I-40 long ago, but once upon a time it ran through where the park is now. The pavement is gone, but the telephone poles remain, and there’s even a rusting Studebaker to mark the spot.