The Black Forest is really the northern part of Petrified Forest National Park, better known as the Painted Desert, and very handy from I-40. You can actually pull off the freeway and enjoy the visitors center, gift shop and restaurant without paying the entrance fee to get into the park, but there's also much to see just a few miles into the park. Don't miss the Painted Desert Inn, a National Historic Landmark. It was originally a lunch counter and trading post for early travelers on Route 66 until the park service bought it in 1936. The CCC rebuilt it in mission style and it reopened in 1940 as an inn. After the war, the Fred Harvey Company managed it as a visitors center and restaurant until 1963. It might have been demolished then, but for the murals done by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie, who also did the art in the Desert Watchtower in the Grand Canyon. It's now a museum and bookstore. You get great views of the Painted Desert from the inn, as well as from several viewpoints within a few miles. You can also take trails into the Painted Desert, but if you want to see lots of petrified logs, drive to the southern part of the park. Keep in mind the restaurant by the northern visitors center is the only real one in the park.
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