Arizona’s Amazing National Parks
US national parks in Arizona are stunningly interesting and diverse. In November 2010 I organized a tour through Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly, Wupatki National Monument, Navajo National Monument and Crater Volcano.
At Petrified Forest, I joined Lynn Carranza, Chief of Interpretation, for an exploration of landscapes formed in the Triassic period over 200 million years ago. The area was once tropical and inhabited by pre-Jurassic creatures including small dinosaurs (e.g. Coelophysis) large crocs (e.g. leptosuchus), shark predecessors and others. The area uplifted and drifted to its current location. Deeply buried logs became petrified and via erosion came to the surface. The park is rich in fossils and a viewed some of these with a staff paleontologist in his lab and in the field at a site called “killing fields”.
The next day at Canyon the Chelly I hiked with ranger Ravis Henry across a spectacular sandstone landscape down Bare Rock Trail on the northern rim to the canyon floor more than 700 feet below. It’s estimated that the canyon has been inhabited for more than 3000 years with peak population reaching up to 2000 people in multiple settlements. Navajo occupation of the canyon apparently began in the 18th century following occupation by the Hopi and their ancestors the Anasazi. Canyon the Chelly was designated a national monument in the 1930s and nearly 100 families continue to have landholdings there, often for seasonal use. My guide was full of interesting stories including the “code tuckers” who used Navajo language as a code for secret communications in World War II.
In the following days I joined rangers for spectacular hikes in Womaki, Citidel, Wupatki, Wukoki, Doney Mountain, Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater. It was an unforgettable experience.
Check out the videos below:
Petrified Forest National Park:
Canyon de Chelly:
Wupatki National Monument: