The Painted Desert certainly does live up to its name. This incredible landscape seems to display Nature’s Brushstrokes for us to behold, don’t you think?
This wondrous example of geological artwork forms part of the area known as the Badlands, in the Four Corners portion of the United States. The Painted Desert stretches across portions of both the Petrified Forest National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park.
The majority of the extremely rugged terrain of the Painted Desert also lies within the confines of land belonging to the Navajo Nation. Large portions of the area can only be accessed by foot or dirt roads.
Though beautiful, the area remains quite dangerous, thus a special permit is required to travel the dirt roads in the region.
Painted Desert Geology and Climate
The local Native American tribes carefully restrict access to the region, to protect both its natural beauty and tourists themselves. Thankfully, their traditions respect the wonders of Nature.
The Painted Desert formed from stratified layers of mudstone, shale, and sandstone. Millions of years of erosion subsequently exposed them. Nature created her brushstrokes, then she uncovered them for us.
The different layers displayed in the Painted Desert each contain large quantities of both manganese and iron. The different concentrations of the minerals form the source of the different colors and shades.
Painted Desert Climate Base
In addition to the deposits of minerals and subsequent erosion, numerous layers of volcanic ash from ancient volcanic activity contribute their own colors to the beauty of the area.
The total area of the region equals roughly 93,500 acres (42,500 hectares). Mother Nature chose a big canvas to paint, didn’t she?
The region possesses a unique desert climate, owing to the strong rain shadow of the nearby Mongolian Rim. The summers become hot and dry.
However, the winters, though virtually snow-free, become quite cold. Beautiful and unique.