Petrified Forest welcomes backcountry hikers
I suddenly realized I was lost in the Painted Desert. I was wandering through a maze of slumped mudstone hills and crumbling cliffs. I had set out for Onyx Bridge — a petrified log stretched across a shallow wash — but had veered off course. Instead of retracing my steps to get back on track, I bid adios to Onyx Bridge and pushed deeper into the badlands with no agenda except to revel in the sights and the silence. I was lost, but not scary lost. A couple of miles away, the old Painted Desert Inn perched atop a high ridge. That was my starting point and as long as I could lay eyeballs on it, I was good. Using that visual tether, I meandered through the backcountry of Petrified Forest National Park.