Blue Mesa is just about in the center of Petrified Forest National Park. There is a 3-mile loop road that goes east from the main road through the park and rises up onto Blue Mesa. My interest was piqued after seeing some photos from the area. This is a bit south of the main body of the Painted Desert but it's a place where you can get right up close to some of the colors and textures. The biggest difference is that the landscape around Blue Mesa is a bit higher than the main body of the Painted Desert. What that means to me is that this geological landscape used to be on top of the Painted Desert landscape but hasn't yet been eroded as much as the Painted Desert has been. As erosion continues on Blue Mesa the same colors and textures that you find in the Painted Desert will come to the surface here, too. And both areas have petrified wood scattered all over them, but a lot of that wood was left in place long after the surrounding softer materials were washed away by the winds and waters of time. Blue Mesa is still here because it had a heavier cap of harder sandstone than the surrounding areas that have already been washed away. What's ironic about this is that in "the old days" this area was probably a low spot on the surface and was filled in deeper with a thicker layer of that protective sandstone. The high areas from those days received a thinner layer of sandstone that was subsequently eroded through and removed more quickly by the erosive elements.

This first page of photos are of things that could be seen on top of or from the top of Blue Mesa. At the northern end of the mesa there is a trail that descends into a bowl and lets you get up close and personal with the geology. This page has photos from down in that bowl.