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Sedona / Grand Canyon Tour: Helicopter / White water rafting
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Travelers descritions of the heart of the state
"While most people think of this state as a desert region, much of the state is actually mountainous high country. Rather than endless rugged mountain peaks, the high country is predominantly rolling plateaus. Much of the high country sits atop the Mogollon Rim which rises precipitously from the desert floor south of Flagstaff and cuts across the state towards the southeast.
The Rim is moderately wooded in pine, and has plentiful lakes and streams. There are many options for such activities as camping, hiking, and fishing, making the area a favorite getaway for desert dwellers during the summer. Towards the eastern edge of the state, the general elevation is higher, around 9,000 feet, and there is more of an alpine feeling.
The photos above and right were taken in Lee Valley Recreation Area, in far eastern part of the state. The recreation area features an excellent campground, and there are six lakes within a short driving distance."
" While most of the world knows about the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon is far less well known. However it is the state's second biggest attraction, and it is a place of great beauty. Most people have probably seen pictures and posters of the canyon's famed red rock formations without realizing the locale.
The perspective is different in Oak Creek Canyon. The main road runs through the canyon, and your experience is mainly looking up at the natural wonders as opposed to Grand Canyon where most people look down from the rim. Due to the high elevation Oak Creek Canyon's bottom is well watered and predominantly wooded. It is a primary escape spot for the states desert dwellers during the summer."
"The northern reaches of Petrified Forest National Park extend into the heart of the Painted Desert of northeastrn part of the state, a colorful fantasyland of mesa, buttes, and badlands.
This is a designated wilderness area. A trail leads from the park road near the historic Painted Desert Inn. If you walk even a short distance, you will leave almost all the tourists behind on the busy road, and enjoy an experience of beauty and solitude.
The area is covered by the "Chinle formation", a very soft layer of earth consisting mainly of mud, sandstone, and volcanic ash. The softness allows for fantastic erosion effects as well as colorful staining by mineralized water flows and mineral deposits over the eons."eologic forces have pushed land from 220 millions year ago, the "Triassic" era (just before the more well-known "Jurassic" era), very close to the surface here. As the Painted Desert erodes, the fossilized artifacts from that ancient time become exposed. Most notable are the remains of a huge conifer forest which dominated the lush Triassic landscape and now literally litter the landscape as the Petrified Forest. This is the world's largest - and absolutely most beautfiul - concentration of petrified wood.
The covering of the Chinle formation created an ideal environment for the fossilization of wood. The layer of volcanic ash contains many minerals especially silicon. As the minerals seeped into the wood, the fossils assumed their many colors. The silicon crystallized, creating beautiful gemstones within the wood. The reddish-brown outer surfaces on most of the logs are not bark which does not fossilize. It is coincidentally iron oxide (rust) which has the same color.
The park also contains remnants of ancient human inhabitants. Above, a reconstruction of a small pueblo built with petrified wood rather than the usual adobe bricks. A real log cabin! Click on photo for enlargement. The bizarre panorama of the so-called Jasper Forest. The colorful desert is completely littered with petrified wood as far as the eye can see. Click on the photo for a much clearer enlargement. The "balanced" log on top of a ridge off of Blue Mesa gives a clearer understanding of erosion. The ridge is simply the remnants of what was once a solid layer of the earth. The log was originally buried in the layer but erodes far more slowly.
As the ridge has continued to wear away, pieces of the tree are tumbling off onto the valley floor (
The Petrified Forest has of course yielded up many other fossils besides wood. The Triassic era was the dawn of the age of the dinosaurs. The early dinsoaurs were small creatures which were dominated by the many great reptiles which inhabited the swamps of that era.
During the 1980's scientists discovered Coelophysis (left) here at the park. At the time it was thought to be the first dinosaur to walk the earth. Older dinosaurs have since been discovered elsewhere but Coelophysis remains one of the earliest.
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