Navajo, Chinle, Entrada, Fort Wingate... these are names given to some of the different layers of sandstone that produce the layers of coloration in the exposed rock. Some of this stone was originally mud and silt at the bottom of a shallow sea. Some was built up as sand dunes moved slowly across a desert wasteland. Some was lake bottom, some was ocean-front beach, some was layers of volcanic tuff, cinders and ash, some is the remains of prehistoric forest crushed into coal over the millenia. What we are looking at today in this expanse of red rock formations is about 250 million years of geologic history that has been exposed to our eyes by the erosive action of wind, water and temperature. Some of these layers of stone are full of fossils from before, during and after the age of dinosaurs. Some have petrified wood in them. En masse, this is a beautiful and imposing but other-worldly landscape.
The photos on this page are all from a few miles east of Gallup, near Red Rocks Park. Those pinnacles sticking up in the photo above are Church Rock.