66 Hikes Along Route 66 – Petrified Forest National Park

Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest, Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch.  The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles.  These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House.  Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.

1000px-Shortgrass_pano_Petrified_Forest_NPPanorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.

Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones.  More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.


The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

And here are a few other great resources.


America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

Connecting with nature through birding


A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.  At the Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary.

A bird lover and nature lovers Paradise.

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can be found by following Montrose Avenue east until crossing Lake Shore Drive and into Lincoln Park.  Visit the magic hedge, on the west side of the sanctuary, but stay on the trails as much as possible in order to not disturb the nesting and resting Birds. Make sure you take the path in One Direction and return in the opposite direction in order to navigate the whole area.

Don’t forget to walk down to the pier where you will see rare ducks,  loons, and possibly peregrine falcons.

Birding Magic

A small bird creeps out of a thicket and is greeted by flashing lights and muffled whispers. Welcome to the celebrity life of a bird along the “Magic Hedge.”

A small finger curling out into the lake, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can boast in having over 300 species recorded, including some of the rarest birds ever recorded in the state.  A small stretch of low-lying bushes and small trees on the west side of the sanctuary in particular have been a magnet for migrating songbirds and rarities.  Some would say that the hedge seems to bring birds in like magic.  The nickname for this spot is fitting: “The Magic Hedge.”

Rotorua’s Geothermal Wonders — The Road Goes Ever On

After hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, we finally took some time to chill. We’d already burned up one of our days in Taupo white water rafting and we decided to explore all around the area on our way from Taupo to Rotorua. There are so many geothermal parks and wonders in the area, and none […]

via Rotorua’s Geothermal Wonders — The Road Goes Ever On

A Practical Guide to Kilimanjaro Marangu Route — Travelfex

Ever since Johannes Rebmann’s first reports about a snow-capped mountain near the equator Kilimanjaro has not lost any of its magic and attracts around 50000 hikers every year from all over the world to climb through extreme conditions, high altitude and even darkness. If you also plan to conquer Africa’s highest peak then here are […]

via A Practical Guide to Kilimanjaro Marangu Route — Travelfex

Unforgettable Double Decker Living Root Bridge — Mad about Birding and Travel

I guarantee that a visit to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge will be unforgettable; if not for the beauty then for the hike itself. Double Decker Living Root Bridge? One may be wondering what I am talking about. Well, my family and I were on a 5-day trip to the north-eastern state of Meghalaya […]

via Unforgettable Double Decker Living Root Bridge — Mad about Birding and Travel

An Interview of The Ravens on the AT — The Ravens

Just a week or so into our AT hike we were approached by a Trail Angel named Jimmy. He interviews hikers along the AT. He really liked that our whole family was out thru-hiking the AT and he asked if he could interview us. Of course we agreed. Here is a link to that interview. […]

via An Interview of The Ravens on the AT — The Ravens

Days 113 – 116: Midsummer Snow, Te Araroa’s Highest Point, And Our Longest Day Yet — gargoyle14

UpOur past four days on the Te Araroa have felt like a full thru-hike. It feels like weeks have gone by since we left the town of Geraldine and began the Two Thumbs Track. We’ve lived and seen more than I would have thought possible in only four days; a lot of it has been […]

via Days 113 – 116: Midsummer Snow, Te Araroa’s Highest Point, And Our Longest Day Yet — gargoyle14

first birding expedition 2020 — The Write Side – South Dakota!

We began at 6:50 a.m. on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 from our home in Madison, (Lake County) South Dakota. The sunrise was at 7:11 a.m. and we were hoping to get some good pictures of the sunrise as we headed out of town. On the highway near our old farmhouse we first saw a Great […]

via first birding expedition 2020 — The Write Side

Monk Parakeet — Feathered Focus

Hey guys, welcome back! Today is our first parrot. That’s right, parrot. The monk parakeet is not native to the US. Some of you may be thinking there’s no parrots native to the US. Well, there are. Very few, and mostly just stragglers that wander north from Mexico and Central America. The eastern US actually […]

via Monk Parakeet — Feathered Focus

Merlin (Female) — Guarding Her Territory? — Sonoran Images

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a detailed view. I have had nothing but bad fortune seeking and photographing Merlins — until this winter. My luck has changed recently and I have had several productive encounters with these small falcons. I’m not doing anything differently; I […]

via Merlin (Female) — Guarding Her Territory? — Sonoran Images