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The Painted Desert in Arizona: See Stunning Photos and Videos

Arizona is a fabulous state filled with beauty and natural wonders. Amazing canyons (Grand!), mountains, and desert scenery await visitors.

arizona-painted-desert-awesome-pictures

The Painted Desert

This author has been fortunate enough to have traveled roads in the Arizona desert several times. At times it was with family members and another time with a good friend from Germany.

This post goes hand in hand with another one written about the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, which goes more into depth. Why do these two posts go together, you might inquire? The reason is that the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park merge. If a person is going to see one of the spectacular scenic areas, both will be seen as a matter of course.

Splitting these articles into two separate ones was decided upon so as not to have either one of them get too long.

Photos included come from an older 35-millimeter camera that I had at the time. No special lenses or filters were used. Aptly named, the colors one sees in the Painted Desert are incredible, and in the vernacular of younger folks today, "truly awesome!"

What to See and Do in The Painted Desert

  • At the north end of the park, the Painted Desert Visitor Center offers a 17-minute film showing how wood becomes petrified.
  • There is a 27 mile (43 kilometers) drive that takes one through the park. People can stop at frequent pullouts to gaze at the wonder of the various colors of the rock formations and dunes and take pictures if desired.
  • In two different areas, one can start wilderness hiking and camp with backpacks. A free permit must be secured if planning to camp.
  • At the southern end of the park is the Rainbow Forest Museum, which also serves as a visitor center. Inside the museum, it portrays human habitation stories within this area, geological history, and exhibits of the petrified wood.
  • The Painted Desert Inn Museum at Kachina Point was built in the 1920s and renovated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1987. One can begin walking in the wilderness area right behind this inn.

Both of these visitor centers can accommodate one's needs for restroom facilities, water, maps, weather information, permits, and the like.

No water is available within the park, so one must transport all one needs to stay hydrated. Remember this is a desert country and it can be quite unforgiving. Recommendations are that once a person has used up less than one-half of one's water supply, it is good to start a return trip to remain safe.

East of Holbrook, the northern entrance, is accessed off Interstate 40, and the southern entrance is off of highway 180 in the northeastern quadrant of the State of Arizona.

Native Americans in Arizona

Arizona has some nineteen million acres set aside that are reservations for fourteen different Native American tribes who live there. These lands belong to them, and one must abide by their rules. In some instances, photography is not allowed.

Most Native Americans are proud to display and sell their artwork consisting of tapestries, pottery, jewelry, etc.

Just north (and a small portion east) of the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park is a large Navajo Indian Reservation. A Hopi Indian Reservation is in the center of the Navajo Indian lands, and the two reservations adjoin one another.

South of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park is the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the San Carlos Indian Reservation.

If one has some extra time and wishes to find out about Native American culture, Arizona offers one many choices in which to explore.

To see much more of the Painted Desert, including what is inside the visitor's center, watch the beautiful video below. The filming took place in various lighting conditions.

The Painted Desert adjoins the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

Sources for Further Reading:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 28, 2015:

Hi Kristen,

We have also visited the Grand Canyon in winter one time. Much less crowded than in summer and still gorgeous. Glad you liked this. Hope you get back to seeing more of Arizona someday. So many wonderful sites to explore!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 28, 2015:

Peggy, wonderful information. I've been to Arizona a decade ago and went to see the Grand Canyon in the winter, no less, and other towns. I would love to go back to Arizona someday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2012:

Hi john000,

We love all of the places that we have been fortunate enough to visit while in Arizona on various vacations. Enjoy your trip to the Painted Desert and beyond. Such great choices you have! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2012:

Hi ytsenoh,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed reading this hub about the Painted Desert. I have driven along parts of Route 66. It is certainly interesting and takes you into little towns and out of the way places that the Interstate Highways now bypass. Appreciate your comment.

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on May 15, 2012:

Wonderful to see such joy in your photos and video of the Painted Desert. Will be heading there soon, as I reside in Arizona and short-trip everywhere. Thanks for communicating the beauty of Arizona to everyone. Thumbs up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2012:

Hello STEVEW13,

So nice to hear that you enjoyed seeing and reading about the Painted Desert and that it is now on your bucket list of places to visit someday. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2012:

Hi Alicia,

The Painted Desert is truly beautiful. Nice to know that you enjoyed that last video. Thanks for your comment.

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on May 14, 2012:

I've been to Arizona several times and certainly want to take that drive up Route 66 now. I love Sedona and the red rocks. What a lovely travel review you put together to persuade people to visit such incredible views. It would certainly be an adventure without regrets. Thanks much and thumbs up.

Steve Wright from Norwich, England on May 14, 2012:

An amazing hub, this looks to be such a beautiful place. Without a doubt added to my bucket list. Thank you so much for sharing :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 14, 2012:

You have beautiful photos in this hub, as always, Peggy. The last video is certainly very enjoyable - I love the desert colors. The Painted Desert looks like a gorgeous place to visit. I'll watch the other videos too when I have time - they look like they should be very interesting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 31, 2011:

Hi jamiesweeney,

The colors in the Painted Desert are spectacular. Glad to hear that you enjoyed looking at them although pictures do not do it total justice. Thanks for your comment.

jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on August 31, 2011:

I love the colors.Great hub, Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 29, 2010:

Hello Journey,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed these pictures of the Painted Desert in Arizona. Yes...my mother was having a good time. I am so glad that we were able to take the trips together that we did. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on May 29, 2010:

Peggy, These pics are beautiful. Your mom looks like she is having a lovely time. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 09, 2010:

Hello Garlic Angel,

Thanks for visiting the Painted Desert of Arizona in this hub. Hope you get to see it in person someday and take your own pictures of it. It is truly awesome and amazing.

Christine from Dublin on May 09, 2010:

wow great hub i really enjoyed lookong at your pictures.. i have never had the pleasure of visiting the painted desert but mabye one day looks awesome.. thanks for sharing and i look forward to reading more of your hubs... :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2010:

Greetings billnelems,

Very happy that you liked these pictures of the Painted Desert in Arizona and thank you for the compliments on the photographic technique in your comments. I am certainly not trained in that area, but like taking photographs.

billnelems from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada on February 09, 2010:

Peggy

Beautiful photos. Great scenery but also good photographic technique. Best wishes. Bill

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 09, 2009:

Greetings Truth From Truth,

Happy to hear that you liked these pictures of the Painted Desert in Arizona. Thanks for the comment.

Truth From Truth from Michigan on November 09, 2009:

great pictures, well done

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 21, 2009:

Greetings Roseangela,

Yes, the Painted Desert in Arizona certainly sparks some awe as do so many other natural areas. Happy to share these pictures with you and thanks for the comment.

Roseangela from United Kingdom on October 21, 2009:

Hi Peggy

What beautiful pictures, you must have been in awe of nature the first time you visited. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 20, 2009:

Hi Enelle,

Glad you liked this hub about Arizona's Painted Desert. As to doing a travel blog...that is pretty much what I am doing here on hubpages as the vast majority of what I am writing about are various travel locations that I have enjoyed visiting. Thanks!

Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on October 20, 2009:

You really should do a travel blog my dear - your pictures and commentary really make me want to visit these places! Lovely pictures, and such vibrant colours - thanks for sharing these with us.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 11, 2009:

Hello EWealthGuide,

Having mountains and ocean at your doorstep must have been nice. That as well as desert landscapes are beautiful. Each has its own type of beauty. Glad you liked the pictures of Arizona's Painted Desert. Going to hop on over to one of your hubs now. Thanks for commenting.

EWealthGuide from Vancouver on October 11, 2009:

Fantastic hub. One of the better hubs I've seen. I grew up with the mountains and the ocean out my doorstep, and that's why I have such a great appreciation for the desert. The desert is my most fovorite landscape. THanks for the photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 08, 2009:

Hello peterander,

Arizona certainly has that...canyons and desert country. The Painted Desert is aptly named due to the coloration. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

peterander on October 08, 2009:

Arizona reminds me of the large desert and the grand canyons. Good post

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 08, 2009:

Greetings mward1125,

So you are an Arizona native! Lucky you! Your state is absolutely brimming with beauty and much of it is so unique to that area. As often as we have visited, we still have more to see if we make it back that way. Glad you enjoyed the reminder of things such as the Painted Desert. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

mward1125 from Arizona on October 08, 2009:

Very nice--as an Arizona native, it's nice to be reminded of all the beautiful places we still have in the state. I sometimes forget!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2009:

Hello magdielqr,

Glad that you liked these pictures of the Painted Desert in Arizona. So much to relish seeing in that state! Thanks for the comment.

magdielqr on October 06, 2009:

Thank you for Excellent Hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 03, 2009:

Greetings beccas90,

So happy that you liked this armchair viewing of the pictures taken in the Painted Desert in Arizona. Just about ready to publish my Grand Canyon hub. I love all the various sites in Arizona and will be sharing more... Thanks for the comment.

beccas90 from New York on October 03, 2009:

I have visited a number of areas in Arizona but not yet the painted desert - it looks magnificent and thank you for putting together an armchair version for us.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2009:

Hello Tatjana-Mihaela,

I totally agree! Thanks for visiting this side of the world with this Painted Desert hub from Arizona. Looking forward to seeing more of the gorgeous pictures in your hubs.

Tatjana-Mihaela from Zadar, CROATIA on September 21, 2009:

Wow, Peggy, this is exactly what I like!

The beauty of nature is - endlessness!

Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 06, 2009:

Hi dohn121,

Already went to your hub to check it out. Some great photos and that skywalk is something! Not sure if I would want to walk on it or not. Thanks for commenting on this Painted Desert hub as well as the Petrified Forest one.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on September 06, 2009:

I've been to a number of places in Arizona but not here, Peggy. I really enjoyed your pictures and yes, you are correct, they are awesome! I too wrote a hub on Arizona--The West Rim including the newly built Skywalk if you are interested:

https://hubpages.com/travel/The-Grand-Canyons-West

Thank you again for sharing this with me!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 06, 2009:

Greetings KyonSOS23,

Nice to meet a new face here. As you mentioned, Arizona can be sunny, dry and windy at times, but have you ever visited the Superstition Mountains? Cooler temperatures...lakes, etc. can be found. This is a State that offers so much in the way of scenery and as often as we have visited, we have yet to see it all. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 06, 2009:

Hello Frieda,

I'm not familiar with that Tony Hillerman series to answer your question. Interesting that one of your favorite authors once lived there. The varied Arizona landscape would certainly be inspirational for film makers, authors, artists and the like. Thanks for agreeing with me in splitting up the Painted Desert hub from the Petrified Forest one. Would have gotten too long in length to have combined them. Hope you get to visit Arizona at least a couple of times as you wish. So much to see and enjoy! Thanks for the comment.

KyonSOS23 from Nabon on September 06, 2009:

Hi,Art from Arizona's nature is Arizona's good part.That is sunny and dry and wind.

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on September 05, 2009:

Truly amazing. You did right by making this a two-part series. In my words: A-frickin-mazing! Far-out! Totally awesome! Photos and videos were phoenomenal. I've always wanted to live in Arizona, but I doubt that will ever happen. But, I tell you, especially now, I'm going to at least get in a visit or two. I think that the Tony Hillerman series with Coyote Waits takes place there, doesn't it. And of course one of my favorite author's, Barbara Kingsolver, used to live there (she lives in Virginia now, but her greatest works were written there). Thanks for sharing the beauty, and the fascinating info.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 05, 2009:

Greetings IslandVoice,

Carefree is a gorgeous place to live in Arizona. You are fortunate to be able to visit your brother in such a location. I agree with you about Arizona having so much breathtaking scenery. It is also so varied. Thanks for reading and commenting on this Painted Desert hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 05, 2009:

Hi James,

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at Arizona's Painted Desert. I would agree with you that it is certainly not the norm of what one thinks of as desert. The colors are truly beautiful and my pictures taken with a simple 35 mm camera do not do it justice, but thanks for the compliment on the pictures.

Sylvia Van Velzer from Hawaii on September 04, 2009:

My bro in law lives in Carefree, and my husband and i enjoy our visits. Arizona and it's landscape are some of the most breathtaking in the world. I love Sedona very much. Great hub and photography.

James A Watkins from Chicago on September 04, 2009:

What an unusual landscape this is. Your photos are excellent. I enjoyed the journey. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2009:

Hello upal19,

Yes, seeing the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Park is better in person than seeing pictures of it. However, if this hub spurred your interest, then it did a good job. Thanks for leaving a comment and hope you do get there someday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2009:

Hello LisaHW,

Glad you liked the pictures of Arizona and the Painted Desert. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2009:

Hi frogyfish,

I agree...seeing the Painted Desert in Arizona from the air would be great. On one of our other trips we saw part of Bryce and Zion National Parks from the air and enjoyed it immensely. Gives one a totally different perspective. When I saw this youtube video, I just had to add it to the hub. Glad that you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2009:

Hi Dolores,

Someday you will see it in person if you like deserts and make your plans to visit Arizona. Many great sites in that state! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2009:

Hello MikeNV,

Actually the Painted Desert is beautiful no matter what time of year one may visit there. As to the comfort level of the humans who may be visiting...depends if one wants it to be warm or hot or sizzling during daylight hours. LOL Thanks for commenting.

Ashraf Mir from Dhaka on September 04, 2009:

very nice. I wish to be there one day to relish the real scenes.

Lisa HW from Massachusetts on September 04, 2009:

What a great Hub and great pictures.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on September 03, 2009:

Wow, your pictures were perfectly beautiful! Just last night my brother from AZ and my daughters were visiting and mentioned childhood memories of the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Enjoyed your flying videos immensely - I'd like to see them that way someday...Thanks for great hub!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 03, 2009:

Wow, such a gorgeous place. I want to go there. Went to Anza Borrego in CA once and fell in love with the whole desert scene. Someday...thank you so much for sharing this wonderful place with us, Peggy!

MikeNV from Henderson, NV on September 03, 2009:

It just looks so hot and dry. You have to go to Arizona in the late fall to see it best.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 03, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

Your comment really made me laugh. Ha! Yes, my mother has "been around" and in the nicest of meanings. Guess the same could be said of me...however I'd enjoy getting around even more. LOL Travel is so much fun and getting pictures of some of the sights we have visited like these in Arizona's Painted Desert are a joy to have and review occasionally. Thanks for your comedic comment. Enjoyed it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 03, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

If you have been through this beautiful part of Arizona more than once, you are fortunate indeed. Thanks for commenting on the Painted Desert hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 03, 2009:

Greetings JanieWrites,

In which part of Arizona do you live?

Compared to getting out of the State of Texas which is an all day drive from where we live going your direction, depending upon where you live in Arizona, it could be a nice day trip for you...or a weekend get-away.

Hope you get to see the Painted Desert sometime soon. Please come back and let me know what you think when you see it in person. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 03, 2009:

The splash of coloured flowers contrasts well. Your Mum has certainly been around, and I mean that in the nicest way possible :)

loveroflife on September 02, 2009:

I have driven through this part of Arizona more than once. It is truly beautiful.

JanieWrites from Arizona on September 02, 2009:

I live in Arizona, but have not made it to the Painted Desert yet. The photos are beautiful and they make me want to make the trip --- soon I hope.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2009:

Hello jill of alltrades,

You are welcome. Hope you make it to Arizona's Painted Desert AND the Petrified Forest National Park someday. Worth the trip! Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2009:

Hello E.A. Wright,

You are correct. Visiting the Painted Desert in other times of the year is a bit more pleasant than in summer. It IS desert, after all. LOL

Thanks for the comment.

jill of alltrades from Philippines on September 02, 2009:

Wow! you are right, the place is awesome! I wish I could visit one day.

Thank you for sharing!

E. A. Wright from New York City on September 02, 2009:

It really is a stunning park. (Best seen on a cooler day, though.)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2009:

Hi Pete,

There is so much to do and see in Arizona that we still have not seen it all in the times we have visited. I can understand why so many people retire there or live there for at least part of the year. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my Painted Desert hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2009:

Hi Lupo,

Happy that this hub of the Arizona Painted Desert brought back good memories for you. It really is amazing to see and pictures cannot truly do it justice...but we try. LOL

Thanks for the comment.

Pete Maida on September 02, 2009:

The colors are amazing. We've been to Arizona twice.

Lupo from Boston Area on September 02, 2009:

Thanks for sharing these great images. I have passed through the painted desert a few times. I have also spent time in a different US desert area (the high plains adobe desert of the Colorado Plateau) and seeing these pictures brings back my own memories of that place.