Discover Petrified Forest National Park

Located amidst the arid landscapes of northeastern Arizona lies Petrified Forest National Park, a mesmerizing testament to ancient geological wonders and prehistoric life. Encompassing over 200 square miles of rugged terrain, this park is renowned for its stunning vistas, vibrant petrified wood, and fascinating archaeological sites.

Visitors are invited to embark on a journey through time as they wander along miles of well-maintained trails, where towering petrified logs, some dating back over 200 million years, dot the landscape like natural sculptures. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region, where remnants of ancient Puebloan civilizations and petroglyphs etched into sandstone cliffs offer glimpses into the past.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, an amateur archaeologist, or simply a nature enthusiast, Petrified Forest National Park promises a unique and unforgettable adventure, where ancient wonders and natural beauty converge to inspire wonder and awe.

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Top 3 Facts About Petrified Forest National Park

01

Petrified Wood

The park contains over 200 million-year-old petrified logs, with some reaching lengths of up to 200 feet (61 meters) and diameters of over 10 feet (3 meters). These ancient trees have been transformed into stone through a process called permineralization, where organic materials are replaced by minerals over time.

02

Size

Covering an area of approximately 230 square miles (600 square kilometers), Petrified Forest National Park boasts a diverse landscape of colorful badlands, petrified wood, ancient ruins, and scenic vistas, making it one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world.

03

Archaeological Sites

The park is also rich in archaeological sites, including ancient petroglyphs, pueblo ruins, and remnants of early human habitation dating back over 13,000 years. Visitors can explore these cultural treasures and learn about the history of indigenous peoples who once called this area home.

Camping and transportation in Petrified Forest National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Petrified Forest National Park

Getting to Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona is relatively straightforward, and here are some common methods of transportation:

  • By Car: The most common way to reach Petrified Forest National Park is by car. The park is located just off Interstate 40 (I-40), approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) east of Holbrook, Arizona. Take exit 311 onto Petrified Forest Road (State Route 180) and follow the signs to the park entrance.
  • By Air: The nearest major airports to Petrified Forest National Park are Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). Both airports are approximately a 3 to 4-hour drive away from the park. From the airport, you can rent a car to continue your journey to the park.
  • Guided Tours: Another option is to join guided tours or organized trips that include transportation to and from Petrified Forest National Park. These tours may depart from nearby cities or towns and often provide informative guides who can enhance your experience of the park.

Places to Stay Near Petrified Forest National Park

While there are no campgrounds within Petrified Forest National Park itself, there are several camping options available near the park. Here are some places to camp near Petrified Forest National Park:

  • Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA Journey: Located just 5 miles (8 kilometers) east of Petrified Forest National Park, this KOA campground offers RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. Amenities include full hookups, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, and a dog park.
  • Wigwam Motel: Situated in Holbrook, Arizona, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of the park, the Wigwam Motel offers unique accommodations in concrete teepees. While not traditional camping, it provides a fun and nostalgic lodging experience for visitors exploring the area.
  • Apache Pines RV Park: Situated in Holbrook, Arizona, approximately 24 miles (39 kilometers) west of the park, Apache Pines RV Park offers full hookup RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. Amenities include laundry facilities, a swimming pool, and a clubhouse.
  • Limestone Campground: Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Limestone Campground is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Petrified Forest National Park. It offers dispersed camping sites with no amenities, making it suitable for self-sufficient campers seeking a more primitive camping experience.
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Best Time to Go to Petrified Forest National Park

Summer

Summer

Summer in Petrified Forest National Park can be hot, with temperatures often exceeding 90°F (32°C) during the day. Despite the heat, summer offers opportunities for early morning or evening hikes when temperatures are cooler. Visitors can explore the park’s scenic drives, such as the Petrified Forest Loop Road, and visit attractions like the Painted Desert overlooks and historical sites. It’s important to stay hydrated and take precautions against the sun while enjoying outdoor activities during the summer months.

Winter

Winter

Winter in Petrified Forest National Park is characterized by crisp temperatures and occasional snowfall, creating a serene atmosphere. While some hiking trails may be closed or inaccessible due to snow and ice, visitors can still enjoy the park’s scenic drives and overlooks. Winter also offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, as animals such as mule deer and coyotes are more active during the cooler months. Additionally, the park’s historical sites and museums provide indoor activities for visitors seeking shelter from the cold.

Spring

Spring

Spring brings mild temperatures and blooming wildflowers to Petrified Forest National Park, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the park’s trails. The weather is comfortable for outdoor activities, and the landscapes come to life with vibrant colors. Visitors can embark on scenic hikes along trails like Blue Mesa and Crystal Forest, admiring the springtime blooms and ancient petrified wood formations.

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Fall

Must-See Attractions

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Painted Desert

The Painted Desert is a breathtaking landscape of colorful badlands, vibrant rock formations, and stunning vistas. Visitors can drive along the park’s scenic overlooks or hike along designated trails to admire the ever-changing hues of red, orange, purple, and blue that characterize this iconic desert landscape.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Forest National Park is renowned for its extensive deposits of petrified wood, which are ancient trees that have been transformed into stone over millions of years. Visitors can marvel at these fossilized logs, some of which are adorned with vibrant mineral colors, along trails such as Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, and Long Logs.

Agate House

Agate House is a reconstructed Pueblo dwelling built by ancestral Puebloan people over 700 years ago. Located along the Puerco Pueblo Trail, visitors can explore this fascinating archaeological site and learn about the ancient cultures that once inhabited the region.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Petrified Forest National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Before your visit, research the park’s attractions, trails, and facilities to plan your itinerary. Check the park’s website for updated information on hours of operation, trail conditions, and any temporary closures or restrictions.

Pack Appropriately

Be Prepared for Weather Changes

Weather in the desert can be unpredictable, with temperature fluctuations and sudden storms. Bring layers of clothing, a rain jacket, and sturdy footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain.

Respect Wildlife

Protect Yourself From the Sun

The desert sun can be intense, so wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, breathable clothing to protect yourself from sunburn and heat exhaustion. Consider carrying a sunshade or umbrella for additional shade during hikes or walks.

Stay Informed

Stay on Trails

Stick to designated trails and overlooks to protect fragile desert ecosystems and avoid damaging archaeological sites or petrified wood specimens. Off-trail hiking is not permitted in Petrified Forest National Park.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Petrified Forest National Park

The park covers an area of approximately 230 square miles (600 square kilometers), encompassing a diverse landscape of petrified wood, eroded badlands, and archaeological sites.

Petrified wood is ancient wood that has fossilized over millions of years through a process called permineralization. Minerals such as silica replace the organic materials of the wood, preserving its structure and creating colorful, crystalline formations.

Some of the main attractions in the park include the Painted Desert, petrified wood specimens, Blue Mesa, Agate House, ancient petroglyphs, and historical remnants of Route 66.

No, it is illegal to collect or remove petrified wood or any other natural or cultural resources from Petrified Forest National Park. Removing or damaging park resources is against the law and can result in fines and penalties.

Yes, the park offers several hiking trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. Popular trails include Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, and Painted Desert Rim. Each trail offers unique opportunities to explore the park’s landscapes and attractions.

The best time to visit depends on personal preferences and the activities you wish to enjoy. Spring and fall offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds, while summer can be hot. Winter provides cooler temperatures and opportunities for wildlife viewing.

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