November 18, 2018

Flagstaff, Winslow, and Petrified Forest NP, AZ to Gallup, NM

Thursday, September 20, 2018
Flagstaff, Arizona to Gallup, New Mexico (via Petrified Forest National Park)
Distance: 283
Campground: USA RV Park
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $33.59
Weather: Sunny and warm

We are really getting to be early risers. We were up, had a mediocre breakfast at Cracker Barrel and were on the road by 8:00! Anyone who knows us will find this very hard to believe, I'm sure. ;)

We arrived at Petrified Forest National Park by 11:00, but first had to make a stop and pay tribute to the Eagles in Winslow, Arizona. We arrived shortly after 9:00, took all the obligatory photos and were back on the road 20 minutes later. There really isn't much else to do in Winslow and we weren't hungry enough to try any of the restaurants. However, if we ever drive through again, I hear the Turquoise Room at La Posada is excellent, so we'll have to check it out.

Bet you can't look at this
without humming the song!

Well, I'm a-standing on a corner
In Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord
In a flat-bed Ford
Slowin' down to take a look at me

You can read more about the history of the song, co-written by Jackson Browne & Glenn Frey, here.

Highway 180

I wasn't sure what to expect from Petrified Forest National Park, but I was glad we took the time to visit. The Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center is informative with a park film and fossil exhibits, as well as a bookstore and trail information. I walked the Giant Logs Trail (an easy 1/2-mile loop) where I saw some of the largest petrified logs in the park. "Old Faithful" is almost 10 feet across at its base.

Beautiful colors in these logs!

The view from the Giant Logs Trail.

We continued on the 28-mile drive thru the park and stopped at Agate Bridge to take in the sweeping views of the landscape and see the 110-foot long petrified log bridge.

Continuing down the park road, we pulled over to get some photos of the Tepees, which are incredibly beautiful. We also stopped at Newspaper Rock, which displays more than 650 petroglyphs, some of which are over 2,00 years old. Sadly, we couldn't get close enough to see very many and I left the good camera with the zoom lens in the RV.

The Blue Mesa Member consists of thick deposits of grey, blue, purple, and green mudstones and minor sandstone beds, the most prominent of which is the Newspaper Rock Sandstone. This unit is best exposed in the Tepees area of the park. The Blue Mesa Member is approximately 220-225 million years old. (

Still heading north, we reached the Painted Desert Inn (a national historic landmark). We ate our lunch in the RV, enjoying the beautiful day and gorgeous scenery. The sky was bright blue with puffy white clouds and it was warm, but not uncomfortably hot. We explored the Desert Inn and took in more views from Kachina Point.

The Painted Desert Inn reopened in the late 1940s under the renowned Fred Harvey Company, a business with important ties to Southwest, railroad, and tourism history. Fred Harvey started his company as a partnership with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876. His facilities for travelers were well known for comfort and quality. The company’s architect and interior designer, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, arrived in December of 1947. She was already noted for her innovative Southwestern concepts when she came to the Painted Desert Inn. Along with renovations and repair, Colter created a new color scheme. She ordered new plate glass windows placed in strategic walls of the Inn to take advantage of the magnificent view.
Fred Kabotie, a renowned Hopi artist, was hired to paint murals on the dining room and lunchroom walls. The scenes are glimpses into Hopi culture: the Buffalo Dance, a trek to a sacred salt lake, planting time, and Tawa—the Hopi sun god. The sun face was also the logo of the Fred Harvey Company. Kabotie had previously worked for the company at the Grand Canyon and other locations. (

I'm glad we took the time to visit this national park. To take in the views of the landscape with all the rich and vibrant colors is like gazing at a portrait of the land as it developed over millions of years. Incredible! 

We arrived in Gallup, New Mexico and had no troubling finding the USA RV Park, which is right on Route 66. It's another gravel "parking lot" type of park with very little in the way of trees and shrubs, which seems to be the norm in this area. Full hook-ups, gravel pad, picnic table, showers, laundry, pool (closed), putting green and a decent little store. Nothing special, but for one night it was fine.

Click on images for larger view. 

Previous Posts:

Discovering Soshone Point (Grand Canyon)


  1. Everything out that way looks so vast and deserted. I wonder what the significance of Winslow was to the songwriter. I've always wanted to see the Petrified Forest.

    1. Kathy, I updated this post with some information about the significance of Winslow. Check out the link I provided above. You should try to make a trip out to this area and see the Petrified Forest. It's remarkable!

  2. I could copy and paste your entire post... we had an identical day just two weeks later! Our evening ended at the Badlands Grill in Gallup, NM. :)

    1. JoAnn, Badlands Grill in Gallup is less than 2 miles away from the RV park we stayed in! We really need to work on our timing next time we all take a road trip! ;)

  3. And I sang the song all the way through reading this post - ha! I think it's so funny that many people think the Southwest and the desert are colorless and dull. Not at all, in my opinion. Loved all the pictures!

    1. Kay, I've been singing it all day! ;) Glad you enjoyed all the pictures. There were a lot and I even trashed a bunch. Nope, the desert and Southwest are definitely not colorless and dull. Nevada, on the other hand, isn't quite as lovely. :)

  4. We were surprised at how colorful the Petrified Forest is—your photos are beautiful! We enjoyed visiting La Posada—it's lovely, and the story behind the original Fred Harvey hotel and the renovations made by the current owners is fascinating. Definitely plan on lunch in the Turquoise Room. Very yummy. :-)

    1. Laurel, we were surprised with the beauty of the Petrified Forest, too. Knowing it wasn't a typical forest with towering evergreens and mountains, I didn't expect much in the way of beauty, but I was wrong. It really is magnificent. Thank you for you nice words about my photos. I struggled to keep the number posted to a minimum, but it's always difficult to decide which to delete. Glad to know that La Posada is worth a visit. We'll definitely make a trip back and have lunch at the Turquoise Room. Thanks again for taking time to comment. Have a happy Thanksgiving!


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