Painted Desert Rim Trail

Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5793 - 5849 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Painted Desert Inn or Tawa Point
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: Painted Desert, gift shop, restaurant

The Painted Desert Rim trail is located in the Painted Desert area of the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona. The trail follows the canyon rim overlooking the Painted Desert between Tawa Point and Kachina Point. The Painted Desert is a vast expanse of Triassic Chinle (chin-lee) formation that is composed of siltstone, mudstone and shale all of which easily erode giving the area its badlands appearance.

This post begins at the trailhead near the Painted Desert Inn and follows the trail to Tawa Point where we turn around and  then hike back to Kachina Point.

The sun is setting on the Painted Desert. This barren badlands stretches from the 4 corners area all the way to the Grand Canyon.

The unpaved trail is easy to follow around the rim with only minor changes in elevation along the way.

Numerous signs along the trail point out interesting facts about the plants, animals, geology and ancient inhabitants of the area.

In contrast to the badlands of the Painted Desert the rim of the canyon is covered with volcanic ash and cinders that were ejected from a nearby volcano a few million years ago.

The trail ends (or begins) at Tawa Point. The name Tawa is the name of the Hopi sun god. Tawa was the Creator. Hopi mythology is very interesting to read. You might be able to find a book on Indian Lore and Mythology in the Visitor Center.

After turning around at Tawa Point you can retrace your steps and follow the trail to its other end at Kachina Point where a good deal more of the Painted Desert is stretched out in all directions.

The Painted Desert Inn is a National Historic Landmark. The inn now serves as a museum and gift shop but at one time it was operated as a lodge that was a famous stop along the old Route 66. If you like ghost stories you will be happy to know that the Painted Desert Inn has a few to tell.

While hiking the Rim Trail you can learn a little about the local geology and a few of the native plants. If you take your pet along for a walk be sure to bring something to pick up after them with. At present there are no doggy bags available at the trailheads. For those that can't squeeze in the time to walk the short trail be sure to stop anyway to take in the view from Kachina Point and to tour the famous Painted Desert Inn. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.