Petrified Forest National Park

Last year I took a 10 Day Road Trip through Arizona and Colorado to visit the national parks in both states. One of the stops was Petrified Forest. I didn’t plan to love the park as much as I did, but now I’m already planning a trip back.

History:

Petrified Forest National Park is located in the northeast part of Arizona and is best known for the deposits of petrified wood throughout the park that date back to 225 million years ago.

The earliest people who settled in this area arrived about 8,000 or so years ago. Since that time, many people groups have lived in the area and adjusted to the changes in the climate since the initial settlers arrived. Pueblos were built in what is now the national park and in the last hundred years, they’ve found fossils from both plants and animals including small dinosaurs in the area.

There have been various wagon roads, railroads, and highways built through this area of Arizona since the 1800s. The famous Route 66 was one of the highways built near the park but was decommissioned in 1985 with just a grassy patch of the road remaining.

What to Do:

If you only have a few hours, I would recommend driving the main road through the park called Petrified Forest Road. It’s about 30 or so miles long and you can pull off at various stops along the way.

Spots along the main road I would recommend stopping at include:

  • Painted Desert Visitor’s Center
  • Giant Logs
  • Agate House
  • Crystal Forest
  • Blue Mesa Scenic Road + Hike
  • Newspaper Rock
  • Route 66
  • Whipple Point
  • Painted Desert Inn

Where to Stay:

You can camp inside the park, but if you’re not into camping, the town of Holbrook is the closest town with various hotel options. Other towns nearby include Taylor and Joseph City. Prices for the hotels range from about $50 – $120 per night.

Tips:

  • The Painted Desert Diner is in the north end visitor’s center. Depending on time of day, you may want to bring along your own food as well for a picnic.
  • Bring plenty of water. It can get pretty warm and depending on how much you hike, you will want it since there aren’t places to stop along the way.
  • It’s $25 to get into the park as of July 2020 if you don’t have a National Park Pass. If you visit more than 3 parks a year, I would recommend the park pass which you can get here for $80 for a year. I’ve had one the last two years and more than got my money’s worth.
  • If you have the time, add the Grand Canyon National Park in AZ, or Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado to your itinerary. Both are beautiful in such different ways.