Like its sibling to the south (the Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park), the Little Painted Desert showcases the same pastel-striped, eroded hillsides that characterize the eerie badlands topography, as if great, colored layers of powdered chalk had been laid on top of each other. The attraction is part of a county park in Navajo County, 15 miles north of Winslow (AZ) on Hwy 87. There are hiking trails and picnic tables, but no camping facilities.
On our way to the Hopi Pueblo, we made a brief stop to gaze at these colorful hills, the likes of which we’ve seen in other parts of the Southwest, as well as in South Dakota. They are very distinctive owing not only to their colors but to petrified wood which is typically found in these layers of the geologic Chinle Formation, dating to Triassic times.
This area is a free alternative to the national park for seeing badlands scenery. If you can time it, take photographs of these hills at sunset when the colors take on deeper tones and contrast increases.