Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Elevation: 5502 - 5617 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Blue Mesa Loop
Attractions: Scenic geology
The Blue Mesa Loop is located in the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona. The one mile long trail descends into the Blue Mesa Basin where it makes a loop around the colorful sculpted badlands.
The trail begins off of the north side of the Blue Mesa Loop Road.
The entire length of the trail is paved with asphalt. There are some steep sections so ask the rangers at the Visitor Center about wheelchair accessibility.
After crossing a narrow ridge with tantalizing views of the area the trail begins descending around an outcrop of pebble sized conglomerates.
New views come up as the trail makes use of a switchback that eases the descent a little.
The loop begins once the trail reaches the basin. The kiosk along the right fork suggest travel in that direction.
Hikers get a close up view of the parched badlands as they follow the loop around the basin.
Petrified wood that has been freed from the hills by erosion litters the ground in places. Badlands can be found around the world but those in the Petrified Forest National Park come with a special touch that is found only here.
The blue, purple and grey fluvial layers of mudstone make up the Blue Mesa Member of the Chinle (chin-lee) Formation that were laid down 200 million years ago. The forces of nature have exposed and sculpted them into what we see today.
A hoodoo makes a natural pedestal for displaying Mother Nature's artwork.
The crux of the hike for some of the parks less fit visitors will be the 100 foot climb back to the top of the mesa. It is a very short distance and there is a bench to rest on.
Blue Mesa is a beautiful place to visit and only requires about an hours worth of time. During the hot summer months the temperature within the basin can be much higher than what it is on the mesa. Be sure to take plenty of water to drink and don't over do it. It is fun to get out and get close to nature and the Blue Mesa Loop is a unique enough place in the park to put on your list. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.