- Published: 03 February 2010
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Ruby Rose age 10, of Boise, Idaho, for her question!
What made the Painted Desert?
The state of Arizona has its full share of the wonders of Nature. There is the Grand Canyon the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and countless other sights to be remembered. All this artistry is the work of nature. Wind and water have been working away at the ground and the rocks for millions of year
The canvas for the Painted Desert was made of clays and limestones. These rocks come in a variety of colors and layers of them formed a high plateau over a mile above sea level. Clays and sandstones are soft rocks, easily worn away by wind and water. The Colorado River dug out a canyon a mile deep through these rocks and formed one of the most beautiful spectacles in the world ‑ the Grand Canyon.
Further east, smaller streams cut grooves and gorges into the soft rocks. Here, the dry winds also bit away at the rocks. Hills were worn down into mesas like rocky tabletops. Scrolls and designs were carved in the cliffs. The beautiful colors of the rocks were revealed as wind and water eroded through the layers. This is the region of the Painted Desert. Everywhere you see rocks of rainbow colors. There are layers of blue, grey and bright purple clays. The sandstones come in browns, buff, gold and even brilliant red. And all this rocky beauty was carved out by busy streams and tireless winds.