A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

We had a spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona – in one day. I had no idea Arizona was such a picturesque state. As we discovered during our visit to Globe, Arizona has a tremendous amount of beauty and fascinating history.

If you decide to take a wandering RV trip through these states, prepare for exceptionally scenic views, unique history, and all kinds of outdoor adventures.

Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive

As we left the Globe area on our way to the Petrified Forest, our route took us through Salt River Canyon’s twisting and winding mountain pass. The drive was not quite three hours long. Although there were not many, we took advantage of each overlook to stop and admire the scenery.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Salt River Canyon is sometimes referred to as a mini Grand Canyon because of its similarities. The layers of rock are multi-colored, majestic, and beautiful to view, and you drive along.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Driving through this Canyon in the RV, pulling the Jeep, was not hair-raising scary. Still, Steve was both hands on the wheel, all attention as we twisted through the switchbacks and hairpin turns. I imagine this would be a thrilling drive on a motorcycle in a sports car!

When we reached the rest area at the beautiful steel arch bridge built over the Salt River, Steve pulled off the highway and, without a word, parked the rig. Whether the stop was to give Tank and Lilly or Steve a much-needed break is a fair question.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

We spent about half an hour here, though, admiring the scenery and relaxing in the fresh air before getting on our way again. There are picnic tables and restrooms here, making this an excellent stop for travelers.

The trails to the bottom of the Canyon were closed off at the rest area. Still, it certainly looked like some beautiful and adventurous hikes could have been had there. This place is a bustling rest area, but again, a perfect stop along this route.

Show Low

After our little break, we continued our drive toward the picturesque town of Show Low, Arizona. The legend is that this community got its name from a poker game!

A terrific natural park complete with stunning mountain views, Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, just ten minutes east of Show Low, is a tremendously popular outdoor recreation destination. This Park is within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

However, not too far from Show Low, as we approached the Petrified Forest on Highway 180 toward the west, the scenery began to change drastically.

Petrified Forest

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

This National Park was our destination for the day, and while it was a long journey to reach the Park, it was well worth the slow and winding mountain drive. What amazing beauty! There is a south and a north entrance, and our approach was from the south on Highway 180.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Look at the enormously heavy petrified wood in the back of this car parked in front of one of the gift shops!

Two large gift shops (privately owned, I believe) are on either side of the road as you turn off Highway 180 into the Park. You can purchase all sizes, shapes, and colors of petrified wood souvenirs here.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Taking souvenir pieces of petrified wood from the Park is illegal, so this would be an excellent place to purchase if you want a souvenir. The petrified wood sold here comes from privately owned land.

We did purchase a small piece. The salesperson instructed us not to unwrap it until we had exited the Park and advised us to keep our purchase receipt.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

The actual Park entrance where you pay the entrance fee is just a short distance down the road. Here is another National Park we did not have to pay an entrance fee for because we have the lifetime Senior Pass. This pass has a tremendous value to us.

The visitor center located near the Park’s entrance contains several skeletal prehistoric animal exhibits and historical information about the area. A bookstore and gift shop are here also.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Indeed I must have learned all those years ago in school how petrified wood came to be, but I did not have a clue at the time of our visit. Here’s what I learned at the Visitor’s Center.

Petrified wood formed over 200 million years ago when this part of the world was a swampy area. The waterlogged wood at the bottom of the swamp became covered with volcanic ash mud. Silica from the volcanic ash seeped into these logs, reacted with the wood, and formed quartz crystals.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

Other trace minerals present in the mud gave the wood the stunning colors we can see today. Araucarioxylon makes up over 90% of the petrified wood in the Park. Two other much less common types of petrified wood found here are woodworthia and schilderia.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

It is possible to drive through the entire Park in about an hour. There are paved or gravel trails throughout the Park and overlooks where you can get out of your vehicle and wander through these magnificent petrified logs.

The Park is pet-friendly, and we enjoyed wandering through the shorter trails with Tank and Lilly. Lilly, of course, had to be carried most of the time – she is quite elderly and no longer a fan of long walks.

Painted Desert

The Petrified Forest is a small part of the more immense Painted Desert. The Painted Desert encompasses over 7,500 square miles and ends at the Grand Canyon on the eastern side.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

The Painted Desert is miles of beautifully colored rocks, primarily sandstone over 200 million years old. The colors vary and depend on the age of the rocks and the climate at the time they formed. The rocks have an oxidized iron and manganese composition but also have green and blue colors.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

We experienced some of the most beautiful scenery and discovered some fascinating history about Arizona on this single-day trip. Next week we will leave Arizona behind and travel back to New Mexico to make more discoveries.

A spectacular RV trip in scenic Arizona

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