Painted Desert, an arid region in northeastern Arizona noted for its brightly colored rock formations. The Painted Desert is part of the Colorado Plateau and extends in an arc along the Little Colorado River between Grand Canyon National Park and Petrified Forest National Park. Much of the desert lies within the Navaho Indian Reservation.
The Painted Desert is marked by wind-and water-sculptured buttes, pinnacles, mesas, and hills and has only sparse vegetation. Exposed layers of sandstone, shale, and clay, stained by traces of iron oxide, appear in combinations of reds, yellows, blues, and browns.
The colors vary in brightness with the angle and amount of sunlight and are most vivid at sunrise and sunset. Dust in the air often creates a pink or purple haze over the region.
A small section of the Painted Desert is included in Petrified Forest National Park.