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10 Facts About Arizona’s Painted Desert

#1 The Painted Desert is about 120 miles long by 60 miles wide.

Flickr User steviep187

Flickr User steviep187

That’s 93,500 acres worth of beauty!

#2 It took millions of years for nature to create this masterpiece.

Flickr User steviep187

Flickr User steviep187

It’s a product of not only shifts in the earths crust due to volcanoes and earthquakes but also the appearance and disappearance of fresh waters and sea waters.

#3 Some people say the Painted Desert looks like cake!

Flickr User Kool Cats Photography over 7 Million Views

Flickr User Kool Cats Photography over 7 Million Views

You can probably guess that it gets its name from the variety of beautiful colors that make up its layers.

#4 The layers are made of a variety of sediments of the Triassic Chinle Formation.

Flickr User Michael Bleyzer

Flickr User Michael Bleyzer

Among them, you’ll definitely find sandstone, mudstone, shale, and bentonite clay.

#5 Iron and manganese compounds in the rocks give them their color.

Flickr User Kool Cats Photography over 7 Million Views

Flickr User Kool Cats Photography over 7 Million Views

Silicic volcanic ash makes petrified remains possible.

#6 Because much of the the Painted Desert is a protected area, motorized travel is limited.

upload.wikimedia.org

upload.wikimedia.org

Good thing there are plenty of options for hiking.

#7 The Painted Desert borders the Petrified Forest National Park.

s3.amanaws.com

s3.amanaws.com

Here you can not only see the petrified remnants of a pine forest from millions of years ago, but also fossils, dinosaur tracks, and the archaeological remains of ancient tribes and settlers.

#8 An expedition led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado nicknamed the area “El Desierto Pintado” when they passed through it in 1540.

Flickr User John Simm

Flickr User John Simm

We’ve been calling it The Painted Desert ever since.

#9 A lot of the Painted Desert is on Navajo Nation land.

Flickr User Boogiebogar

Flickr User Boogiebogar

You’ll need a permit for any back road travel here.

#10 The Painted Desert’s climate is cold in the winter with hardly any snow, and hot and dry in the summer.

Flickr User gprhoto

Flickr User gprhoto

The annual precipitation here is often some of the lowest in Arizona.

Cheyenne Reed

Cheyenne Reed was born and raised in Ohio. She recently relocated to rural Wyoming to try out working at an exclusive guest ranch. She graduated from Kent State University with an English degree, and most enjoys writing about travel. If she has free time, you may run into her anywhere, because she is always itching to explore new places. Her personal motto is, "Any day can be an adventure if you make it one!"

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