My father (who traveled extensively) always said this was the most beautiful place in the U.S. Took me 62 years to get here - and he was right. However, it may depend on the time of day. What may look like just a nice wide desert vista in mid-day turns glorious in the late afternoon sunlight. Do the Petrified Forest also. You'll be amazed at the Petrified Forest....then WOW'ed by the Painted Desert. Takes about an hour to drive through the Painted Desert and to visit the visitor center located there. I could have spent another hour or two just staring at the landscape full of pinks, reds, lavenders, and purples. It's like watching waves at the seashore - the colors move and change with the light. Don't forget your camera.