The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.Marcel Proust
About the Park
Petrified Forest National Park in northwestern Arizona is named after the large deposits of petrified wood and is known for the colorful and highly eroded badlands. The park contains one of the world’s largest concentrations of bright petrified wood and displays 225-million-year-old fossils.
Check out the view from the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- See the Old Studebaker on Route 66 and take a photograph
- Walk the Painted Desert Rim Trail for views of the Painted Desert
- Take the 1-mile Blue Mesa Trail
- Go to the Crystal Forest Loop for the best place to see the petrified wood
On our drive from Flagstaff, Arizona, to see the Petrified Forest National Park, it goes without saying that we had to make a stop along the way so that we could be” standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ.” We even made an Instagram reel, so check out our fun afternoon.
Size of Park
This is the only National Park that contains a segment of the Historic Route 66.
Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona features stunning landscapes of colorful badlands, rolling hills, petrified wood, and fossils. The park is home to over 350 species of plants, including cacti and desert scrub, and over 200 species of animals, from birds and lizards to bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope. Petrified Forest National Park has a rich cultural history, with ancient human artifacts such as pottery, tools, and rock art. Visitors can explore the park’s trails and camp and even learn about the park’s natural and cultural history at its visitor center. Petrified Forest National Park is a wonderful place to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature.
Most trails in Petrified Forest National Park are easy and short.
Blue Mesa Trail
This 1-mile long loop descends from the mesa and lets you look at the blue part of the Painted Desert in a better way. The track is paved at some points and passes through hills made of bluish bentonite clay and petrified wood. These sedimentary layers of Blue Mesa also contained numerous animal and plant fossils for millions of years.
Onyx Bridge Trail
For a longer hike in the Petrified Forest, you can go to the Onyx Bridge Trail, which offers a much-needed peaceful environment and solitude. This 4.6-mile-long track provides an amazing sight of the canyon track along with rocks and petrified wood. You will also spot various bird species flying about in the area.
Crystal Forest Trail
The trailhead of Crystal Forest Trail is located 8 miles from the park’s south entrance. The trail is just 0.75 miles long and is named because of the beautiful crystals in the petrified logs. Apart from that, you can also experience petrified wood deposits while trekking. It should be noted that removing any petrified wood or other material from the park is strictly forbidden.
Painted Desert Rim Trail
This desolate trail is situated in a pastel landscape where hikers can appreciate the park’s rich colors and rolling hills. The round trip is just over a mile long and has no elevation. Starting from Tawa Point, the path takes you to the edge of the canyon, where you can have an expansive view of the desert.
Historic Blue Forest Trail
This trail is another easy hike that takes over an hour to complete. The track begins at Historic Blue Forest Trailhead and showcases gorgeous painted hills and rock formations. The trail has minimal elevation gain, and you can bring dogs!
Camping in the Park
Petrified Forest National Park has no campgrounds. However, they offer only a very basic option, so check the visitor’s center for a permit.
There are private campgrounds in Apache and Navajo Counties. You will also find other suitable camping options in and around Sun Valley, Holbrook, St. Johns, and Joseph City.
This campground may not have beautiful scenery, but it makes up for that by offering its guests a comfortable stay. This campground is also just a 10-minute drive away from Petrified Forest National Park. With 126 camping sites, the campground is equipped with essentials, making it an excellent choice for families.
With 90 campsites, this campground is located almost 100 miles from the Petrified Forest. Three restroom facilities on the site have sinks and flush toilets. However, there are no showers. RVs up to 40 feet can stay on the campgrounds; however, no RV hookups are available.
The campground has a secluded location and is 99 miles from the national park. There are 200 campsites available and a few basic amenities, including restrooms, showers, free Wi-Fi, and RV patio sites.
The Crystal Forest Gift Shop and Campground is located near the park and offers free camping. The camping sites have ramadas and picnic tables and also provide electric hookups for a small fee.
This giant rock got its name because certain parts depict narratives and stories. These visual stories are essential in learning about the region’s history; hence, the rock acquired the name ‘Tse’ Hone,’ or the ‘rock that tells a story.’
Over 650 petroglyphs on the Newspaper Rock have been etched here for thousands of years by the Ancestral Puebloans. These people used to live here and hunted along the Puerco River between 650 and 2,000 years ago. The stories depicted on the rock are not linear, but these markings are still extremely enlightening and include spiritual meanings and clan symbols.
Blue Mesa is a significant landform where you can clearly see the park’s badlands, trails, and hoodoos. Located halfway through Petrified Forest National Park, this viewpoint offers stunning views of the colorful terrain. Unfortunately, geological processes like weathering, uplift, and deposition have created an interesting landscape!
In the 1200s, a series of droughts forced the ancestral Puebloan people to move away and build large pueblo communities in Puerco Pueblo, or the ‘Village on the Rio Puerco.’ More than a hundred rooms are located at the site, which may have housed around 200 people.
The village was ultimately abandoned, but today, you can go to the site and visit the potsherds, petroglyphs, stone tools, and other features and artifacts that remain intact today.
If you want to view the petrified wood up close, this is a fantastic place to visit. This forest is a large expanse of logs scattered over the valley. It used to be called the ‘First Forest’ as the first collection of petrified wood discovered.
The site is an excellent reflection of the desolation and ruggedness of the Petrified Forest National Park. There is also a geological feature called ‘Eagle Nest Rock’ in the area, which has yet to be in its original shape.
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