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The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert stretches before you as an outdoor
museum of fossilized plants and animals. Its striking colors
emanate from the Chinle Formation of the Late Triassic,
which has been eroded by the Little Colorado River
drainage system.

An aerial view of the Painted Desert reveals tie-dyed
corrugated hills of highly colored sedimentary rock, mostly
soft, fine-grained mudstone and claystone. Also present are
harder beds of more somber-colored siltstone, sandstone,
and conglomerate. The wide range of reddish color in
these rocks is due to the presence of iron minerals.

The Chinle Formation is a storehouse of plant and animal
fossils that provide evidence of a time when giant
amphibians and reptiles ruled the Earth. If you look deep
into the Painted Desert, you may see large fragments of
petrified wood.

Extending in a broad arc from east of Grand Canyon
southeastward towards St. Johns, Arizona, the Painted Desert
was exposed by the erosional force of the Little Colorado River.

Iowa Congressman John Fletcher Lacey strongly
advocated the protection of public lands. The
Antiquties Act of 1906, which protects "objects of
historic or scientivid interest" on federal lands, is
often called "the Lacey Act."

One of the first areas to be protected under the
Antiquities Act was Petrified Forest National
Monument in 1906. Fittingly, Lacey Point with
its broad vistas was named in honor of this
visionary conservationist.

Minerals paint the desert with many colorful hues.

Don't miss the rest of our virtual tour of Petrified Forest National Park in 1519 images.