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Last fall when we were living in Wyoming, we decided to buy a National Park annual pass. We got to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Badlands National Park before the weather turned cold and we moved back east. Just these two visits made us fall in love with the National Park Service, and we quickly became familiar with what parks are located where.

When we found out that we'd be moving to New Mexico, I spent an entire evening researching the closest parks to our new home. We picked our first park based on location, as it's only two hours from where we live now. It's located in Arizona, and it is now the furthest west that I've ever been!

Petrified Forest National Park spans a huge portion of history. From the dawn of the dinosaurs, to ancient Native American villages, to the Route 66, there's so much to learn and explore here.

The southeastern tip of the Painted Desert is located in Petrified Forest National Park. It extends northwest, all the way to the Grand Canyon. It's known for its variation of colors that include different shades of red, blue, and purple.

Petrified Forest National Park is the only National Park that has a portion of the historic Route 66 passing through it. The only indication that the roaring highway once existed here is the line of telephone poles that used to line the road, and still stand today. There is also an old, broken down 1932 Studebaker, which gives a glimpse into the past.

The park is home to many petroglyphs, which are ancient Native American stone carvings. They often depict migration routes, weather patterns, and changes of season; and they pepper boulders throughout the park.

There is also an old village that was semi-excavated, giving visitors an idea of the living quarters of the people who once inhabited the area.

This park doesn't have the number of hiking spots that the other two parks we've visited had. We had to drive the majority of the park, but there's so much scenery that we didn't mind. We were able to take a short, one-mile hike down into the Blue Mesa Trail, which are those blue-purple badlands that I described earlier.

And probably the gem of the park is the actual petrified wood. The colors are incredible, and I thought it was the prettiest part of the park. It's one of those places that you can't believe exists so close to where you live.

This last petrified tree is known as "Old Faithful." It has a ten-foot diameter, and is the most iconic petrified tree in the entire park.

As we were leaving, a storm was rolling in. You can see for miles in this park, so we could actually see several separate rain showers in the distance.

We really have fallen for the National Parks. We're already planning on checking more off our list before our annual membership runs out at the end of September. But if I know us, we'll be buying another one :)

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