So – The Painted Desert – I wonder why they call it that? Well, Duh!
There have been people crossing the Painted Desert (which stretches from the Grand Canyon down to the Petrified Forest in Arizona) for millennia – but the name The Painted Desert was given to the region a bit under 500 years ago.
Francisco Coronado was searching for the fabled “Seven Cities of Gold” (which didn’t exist, of course) and sent his men to find the Colorado River so he could be resupplied.
As they headed toward that life-giving water course, they came across an amazing piece of land – which they called El Desierto Pintado, or The Painted Desert.
The colours of the Painted Desert are astounding .. not just the reds and greys that are found across the whole of the “Four Corners” area .. but mauves, and lilacs, and yellows, and whites, and blacks.
Apparently these colours are especially vibrant at twilight – but even in the early afternoon, when we passed through, the view is spectacular.
It’s a desert – and can get dangerously hot (43 degrees is the record for July, with an average in the mid-30s) and extremely cold (the average low in January is -5 Celsius – with a record low of Minus 26C).
But in the Autumn or Spring, it’s delightful. On Sunday, when we went through, it was around 17 degrees Celsius – typical for the middle of October.
If you get the chance to drive through the desert (and the nearby Petrified Forest), make sure you pick up the CD Travel Guide available for about $10 from the Visitor Centre at either end of the National Park.
It’s a great way to know what you are seeing – and a hoot, to boot!
Besides which it makes it less likely that you’ll fall prey to the earworm that was running through my head all day
“I’ve been through the desert in a car with no name .. it’s good to get out on the road …”
Ahem. Yes. Well. With apologies to America (the band). And to America (the nation) as well 🙂