Skip to main content

Route 66 Wednesdays; Petrified Forest National Park

Back in 2012, I stopped in at Petrified Forest National Park on the Colorado Plateau which used to be crossed by US Route 66 in addition to Arizona State Route 63.


Petrified Forest National Park is mostly known for fossilized trees from the Late Triassic Period about 225 million years ago.  Petrified Forest National Park spans much of the border along the Navajo County and Apache County line between I-40 south to US 180.  Petrified Forest was set aside as a National Monument in 1906 to protect the fossils from theft and was elevated to a National Park in 1962.  Given that US Route 66 ran through Petrified Forest National Park, it has become associated with the highway. 

From I-40, access to the Painted Desert Visitor Center and the Park itself is fairly straightforward.


The northern annex of Petrified Forest contains several vistas of the Painted Desert.  The Painted Desert consists of a series of Badlands on the Colorado Plateau running from the east rim of the Grand Canyon easterly to Petrified Forest National Park.







US Route 66 before I-40 was built used to run across the south side of the modern traffic lanes and directly through the northern annex of Petrified Forest National Park.  US 66 would emerge east of the northern Petrified Forest Painted Desert Visitor Center onto Pinta Road.  The alignment of US 66 is plainly visible via satellite images.  The National Park Service even provided a historical marker where US 66 crossed the lanes occupied by I-40.




From the US 66 monument south to US 180 the routing of Park Road was once part of the original Arizona State Route 63.  AZ 63 apparently was created in 1932 and appeared on maps under state maintenance as late as 1951.  By 1956 maintenance of AZ 63 had been turned over to the National Park Service.

Arizonaroads on AZ 63

1935 Arizona State Highway Map

1951 State Highway Map

1956 Arizona State Highway Map 

South of I-40 there is a series of petroglyphs that can be viewed via telescope to the west near the former Atlantic & Pacific Railroad siding of Adamana.




Formations like The Teepees, pictured below, are common in the Painted Desert.  The southern annex of Petrified Forest National Park has various formations with blue and purple color hues.



To the south of The Teepees, the park road traverses by Blue Mesa which can be accessed by the Blue Mesa Scenic Road.


Blue Mesa overlooks various clusters of fossilized trees.





South of Blue Mesa the Agate Bridge forms a small fossil bridge.  The Agate Bridge has been reinforced from the bottom with concrete.


South of the Agate Bridge the park road passes by the Crystal Forest.



Near the south gate of Petrified Forest is a large formation of fossilized logs known as the Rainbow Forest.  The Rainbow Forest seemed to have what was the largest cluster of fossilized trees along the park road.





The Park Road presently ends just short of US 180 as the National Park boundary ends.  The road continues as Petrified Forest Road about a quarter mile where it ends at US 180, AZ 63 would have never met the current designation.  Originally AZ 63 may have ended at the first alignment of US 70 but I'm uncertain as it moved to the present location in 1932.  AZ 63 ended at US 260 which was assigned over the previous US 70 alignment from 1932 until it was decommissioned in the 1950s.


Site Navigation:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 190; a Trans-Sierra Highway that could have been

This past week I decided to take a small scale road trip on California State Route 190 from CA 99 east to the unbuilt section over the Sierra Nevada Range.  While I was in for what turned out to be a fun drive following the course of the Tule River watershed what I found researching the back story of CA 190 was one of the most complex and unusual stories of any California State Highway.  Given that I had a ton of older photos of the eastern segment of CA 190 in the Mojave Desert of Inyo County I thought it was time to put something together for the entire route. The simplified story of CA 190 is that it is a 231 mile state highway that has a 43 mile unbuilt gap in the Sierra Nevada Range.  CA 190 is an east/west State Highway running from CA 99 in Tulare County at Tipton east to CA 127 located in Death Valley Junction near the Nevada State Line in rural Inyo County.  The routing CA 190 was adopted into the State Highway system as Legislative Route 127 which was adopted in 1933 acc

I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates, Year in Review 2022

Another year over, already? 2022 turned out to be quite the year if you are a fan of new interstate routes, and it wasn't bad for some long standing favorites. As per the tradition, I will review what happened with I-73 and I-74, and then the other new and future interstate routes in North Carolina... Work continued on the one segment of I-73 under construction, the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass. As of the beginning of December, work was getting close to being 2/3 complete at 60.1%. Progress could be seen from US 74 on constructing of the future interchange at the Bypass's southern end. Here's a look from US 74 East in September from Google Maps Street View: Here's a photo from US 74 West taken last week by David Gallo: Work is now scheduled to be completed in October 2025, though the road itself could open earlier that year.  Progress on I-74 earned more publicity in 2022 with the opening of 7.5 more miles of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway from US 311 (Exit 49) to NC

Interstate 605

Interstate 605 is a 27.4-mile freeway located in the Los Angeles Metropolitain Area.  Interstate 605 begins at Interstate 210 near Duarte and terminates at the Interstate 405/California State Route 22 junction to the south near the boundary to the city of Long Beach.  Interstate 605 is known as the San Gabriel River Freeway and has three unconstructed miles which would extend it south to California State Route 1 near Seal Beach.  Much of the corridor of Interstate 605 was built up from what was the original California State Route 35.  The blog cover photo is taken from the July/August 1964 California Highways & Public Works which featured the initial segment of Interstate 605 to open between Whittier Boulevard and Peck Road  Part 1; the history of the San Gabriel River Freeway and Interstate 605 The origin of what is now Interstate 605 begins during 1933 with the addition of Legislative Route Number 170 (LRN 170) to the State Highway System.  The original definition of LRN 170 was