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Today, we received Arizona, the land of National Park Systems filled with endless natural beauty.  Many of you might already know the Grand Canyon is located in Arizona but a less popular national treasure is the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.  Personally I had never known these two parks were in Arizona, actually the location of these two parks were unknown, just mystery parks as the main focal point on postcards for the USA.  Am I the only one?  Hopefully ya’ll can give me some credit since I spent most of my life studying Japan instead of the USA.  It actually raises the question of where the exact location of other national treasures are located?  Millions around the world see breathtaking photos from these locations all the time, how many of us can tell where each one is located off the tops of heads?

Well, today I want to share with you these two National Preserved Parks that are actually go for a BOGO entrance fee.  Bonus!  Tourist can either enter through the top or bottom end of the park, it just depends on where you wish to start your trek.  For us, we were traveling today from Santa Rosa, NM to Holbrook, AZ so we started in the Painted Desert and traveled up to the forest.  It doesn’t matter either way though, just as long as you know where your car is pointed at the end of the trip to make it back home.

Places of Interest Shown in the Video:

  1. Petrified Forest National Park: Located in the Apache and Navajo Nations (Native American Indian Land) this is an entire park filled with trees that had fallen about 225 million years ago, sometime in the Late Triassic Period.  The trees had fallen and over the years petrified into quartz.  At first I did not understand what we were looking at with the fallen trees, since looking from afar, it just looks like wood.  But once up close, the tree bark and inside layers can be seen to be quartz (just like jewelry of today).  It’s something very hard to explain until one has seen it in person.  Still today I still have questions about this phenomena.
  2. Painted Desert National Park:  Located in the Navajo Nation (Native American Indian Land) and can only be accessed by car through the park system or by permit.  But, I believe one must basically be a Navajo Indian to travel by permit.  (I could be wrong though…)  The fee is minimal so I suggest just visiting by the easy route, it is worth it.  Now as the name might suggest, the desert is painted but by Mother Nature herself, not with actual paint.  There are some Native American Indian Petroglyphs but that is about all you will see besides raw natural beauty.  I highly suggest going either at sunrise or near sunset for the greatest variances of colors.  Maybe not the most exciting for children but it is worth if it if you love raw beauty.  There is also plenty of picnic tables and room to run around if your kids get a bit bored.

Note: The NPS has a membership card that can be purchased in various price ranges which can get you into as many NPS parks as you wish each year.  We used to be a member of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia but this year we upgraded to the National Park System Membership.  This is a great opportunity to go to as many National Parks as you wish without paying each time.  The card will get you and a full car into the parks for free, as many times as you desire.  It’s a method to not help preserve America but also to see as many national treasures as you wish to see.  Highly worth the money!


Another day of issues finding quality vegan food.  There were a cafe at the park system I believe but we did not stop as we just took along our food in a cooler.  When we got to Flagstaff, AZ though we did make a stop after getting to our hotel.

  1. New Jersey Pizza 2224 E. Cedar #6, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.  We actually visited this location because PETA had given them an award for an “Award Winning Vegan 2012 (cheeseless) – ( $14.5 / $22 ) spinach, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, pineapple, fresh garlic, black olive, basil (V)”  It was a good pizza but I would highly suggest getting something with cheese instead, I was not a fan of this pizza.  It was around $22 and it was not filling enough even though the two of us ate the entire thing.  The staff members were very kind and fun to interact with so I would highly suggest going to this place if in town.  Additionally, the crust was good, so that’s why I believe the other Daiya cheese pizzas would be a better option.

Tip:  Flagstaff, AZ is a dark skies city which means they do considerable amounts of preventative measures to limit the amount of light at night so it is very dark all throughout the city.  The famous, Pluto finding Lowell Observatory is located in this city, so it’s important for astronomers to see the black skies of nighttime.  Thus, I highly suggest you use your GPS and double check the image of the outside of the pizzeria before going to assure you are at the right place.  There are no signs outside with lights on it.


Our experience finding a hotel was a bit more difficult than normal, considering we stayed in Flagstaff on December 30th and New Years Eve.  The only hotel we could find that accepted pets and was available was the one listed below.  It was very pricy and probably more so considering the holiday season.  Thus, we were a bit disappointed with the price of the hotel considering the quality and amenities.  First off, we paid a large sum for the hotel stay then basically paid for another hotel room for our pets.  The price per pet is the highest we have ever seen, anywhere!  I would probably not suggest this hotel if you have pets or are on a budget.  It was clean but comparing to hotel rooms in Washington D.C and Chicago, this one was double the price.  Additionally, there is not a continental breakfast service and other amentities included in the cost.  There is an onsite restaurant and the hotel wishes for guest to spend money there instead.  Plus, there are two buildings to the hotel.  We were separated into the back building away from all the others but if we needed anything we were to go across the cold parking lot to the main building.  No staff members were located in the second building. But these are just our opinions…

  1.  DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

Do you have any other locations to add to the list? Leave your comments below.