Featuring a colorful desert landscape with significant deposits of petrified wood from the late Triassic period, Petrified Forest National Park is an Arizona treasure. Highlights include the Painted Desert badlands that cover the northern area, Blue Mesa Road Loop, and Newspaper Rock, covered with ancient petroglyphs. The Basics
Hikers, photographers, and nature lovers will want to spend as much time as possible among the natural wonders of the Petrified Forest, including Crystal Forest, Black Forest, and Rainbow Forest. The Painted Desert offers a multitude of trails for visitors to explore the striated mounds of sedimentary rock. Many travelers opt to combine guided tours with visits to other attractions in Arizona, such as the Grand Canyon or Monument Valley.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Bring layered clothing, as the desert temperature can fluctuate wildly throughout the day.
- The Painted Desert Visitor Center and the Rainbow Forest Museum are good places to start for an orientation to the area.
- Seven maintained hiking trails allow pets on leash, but no bicycles. (Check out the off-the-beaten-path Jasper Forest hike.)
- No overnight accommodations are available in the park, but nearby Holbrook has several options.
- National park fees get you into the park, but 7-day passes are also available.
Visitors can reach Petrified Forest National Park, about two hours east of Flagstaff via I-40, by car or organized tour. Both visitor centers have ample parking and turnouts for large recreational vehicles.When to Get There
Temperatures top out above 90°F (32°C) during the summer days but drop to around 40°F (4°C) at night; spring and fall are more popular times to visit. The park is open every day except Christmas, as are the Painted Desert Visitor Center, the Rainbow Forest Museum, and the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark.The More You Know
A variety of educational programs, led by park rangers, are offered throughout the year at Petrified Forest National Park. Activities include a Puerco Pueblo guided walk, a trek along the Giant Logs Trail, a lecture at the Rainbow Forest Museum about the Triassic period, and a tour of Painted Desert Inn. Kids can learn more about the park when they complete a booklet to become a junior park ranger.