From Pintado Point, vistas of remarkable clarity extend far beyond boundaries because the air quality in the surrounding Petrified Forest is among the purest in the continental United States. At times, the San Francisco Peaks, 120 miles (193 km) away near Flagstaff, can be seen clearly. Long-distance visibility also allows us to see the Painted Desert's vibrant colors extending out to the horizon.
But clean air is extremely sensitive. In pre-industrial times, visibility flunctuated naturally depending on conditions of weather, wind, dust, and smoke. Today, visibility also is affected by man-made pollutants that reduce constrast, wash out colors, and render distant landscape features indistinct or invisible.
Most of these pollutants are fine particles of sulfates, organic matter, soot, mitrates, and soil dust from industry, farming, motor vechiles, forest fires, and other sources.
As in many rural western areas, sulfates, organic matter, and soot contribute almost equally to decreased visiblity. The park's air quality equipment measures and monitors the amount of these fine particles in the atmosphere.
We can help improve air quality through carpooling, recycling, reducing use of electricity, and becoming involved in community air quality issues.