The Ultimate Guide: Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is a unique and beautiful place located in northeastern Arizona. The park is famous for its colorful badlands, petrified wood, and ancient ruins. Visitors can explore these features and learn about the park’s history and geology. In this article, we will take a closer look at the park’s history, main sections, essential information, best hikes, accommodations, safety, and surrounding area.

For a condensed view of the park feel free to check out rvResortScouts Pertified Forest National Park Information listing.

Park History / General Overview

In 1906, Petrified Forest National Park was created to safeguard the petrified wood and ancient ruins found in the area. The park covers over 200 square miles. It is home to the largest and most colorful concentration of petrified wood in the world.

The petrified wood found in the park is from ancient trees. These trees lived in the area over 200 million years ago. The trees fell into a river and were covered by sediment. Over time, the sediment turned into stone and preserved the wood. Today, visitors can see the colorful petrified wood in the park’s southern section, known as the Petrified Forest.

The park also contains ancient ruins of the Puebloan people who lived in the area over 800 years ago. The forest also has several ancient pueblo ruins, such as Agate House, which visitors can explore. The park also contains evidence of human presence dating back over 13,000 years.

The park’s landscape is diverse, with colorful badlands, rolling hills, and high plateaus. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including pronghorn, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. Visitors can spot these animals while taking a drive through the park or while hiking on one of the park’s trails.

Petrified Forest National Park Rainbow

Getting Oriented

Petrified Forest National Park is divided into two main sections, the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. The Painted Desert is located in the northern part of the park. This section of the park has colorful badlands and ancient ruins. The Petrified Forest is located in the southern part of the park. It is home to the largest and most colorful concentration of petrified wood in the world.

Visitors can explore the Painted Desert by taking a drive on the Painted Desert Rim Road. This scenic drive offers great views of the park’s colorful badlands and ancient ruins. The park also has a number of hiking trails that take visitors through the badlands and to ancient ruins.

The Petrified Forest section of the park is where visitors can see the colorful petrified wood. The park has several trails that take visitors through the petrified wood. Some of these trails are the Crystal Forest Trail and the Giant Logs Trail. Visitors can also take a drive on the Petrified Forest Loop Road, which offers great views of the petrified wood.

Additionally, the park has a number of backcountry roads that allow visitors to explore the park’s many features. These roads are unpaved and accessible only by high-clearance vehicles. Visitors who want to explore the park’s backcountry should be prepared for rough terrain and bring enough supplies.

Visitors can also take a guided tour of the park. Information on the tours can be found at the visitor center. They can also stop by the visitor center to get information about the park’s history, resources, and recreational opportunities.

Petrified Forest National Park Essentials

Visiting the National Park is easy, as it’s located just off of I-40, and it’s open year-round. To get to the park, take exit 311 off of I-40 and drive north for about 10 miles. The park has a main entrance station where visitors can pay their entrance fee and get a map of the park.

The park has some facilities that may be closed during the winter months. Therefore, it is important to check the park’s website before your visit. The park’s visitor center is open year-round, and it’s a great place to get information about the park’s history, resources, and recreational opportunities.

When visiting the park, it’s important to follow the rules and regulations to help protect the park’s resources. The park has some rules that visitors should be aware of, such as:

  • You can bring your pet, but they must remain on a leash.
  • Do not collect any petrified wood, ancient artifacts, or any other natural or cultural resource.
  • Camp only in designated campsites.
  • You need a permit for backcountry camping.

It’s also important to be prepared for the park’s rugged terrain and changing weather conditions. Visitors should bring plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

Visitors can also purchase an annual pass, which allows them to enter the park for a full year. This is a great option for those who plan to visit the park multiple times or for those who plan to visit other national parks.

Things You Need to Know

When planning a trip to Petrified Forest National Park, there are a few things that visitors should keep in mind.

Here are some things you need to know:

  • What to Pack: Visitors should bring plenty of water, wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and bring sunscreen and a hat to protect from the sun. It’s also a good idea to bring binoculars to spot wildlife.
  • Amount of Food Needed: Visitors should plan to bring enough food for the duration of their visit. The park has a small store where visitors can purchase snacks and drinks, but it’s best to bring your own food.
  • Hiking Gear: Visitors should bring appropriate gear for hiking, such as a backpack, hiking boots, and a map.
  • Animals In The Area: Visitors should be aware of the park’s wildlife and keep a safe distance. The park is home to a variety of animals, such as pronghorn, coyotes, and bighorn sheep.
  • Cost of Trip: The park has an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle and $15 per person for those entering on foot or bicycle. Visitors can also purchase an annual pass for $55, which allows them to enter the park for free for a full year.
  • Family Activities: Petrified Forest National Park offers a variety of activities for families to enjoy together, such as hiking, sightseeing, and exploring ancient ruins. The park also has a Junior Ranger program for kids to learn about the park’s resources and become a Junior Ranger.
  • Conservation: Visitors should help preserve the park by following the rules and regulations and leaving no trace.
  • RV Dos and Donts: Visitors with RVs should check the park’s website for information about RV camping and be aware of the park’s rules and regulations regarding RVs. RVs must be self-contained and have holding tanks for waste and fresh water.

Best Hikes Within Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest Park has a variety of hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous. Here are five of the best hikes in the park:

  1. Crystal Forest Trail: This easy trail is a 0.75-mile loop that takes visitors through an area of petrified wood. The trail is mostly flat, and visitors can see some of the park’s most colorful petrified wood.
  2. Blue Mesa Trail: This moderate trail is a 3-mile loop that takes visitors through the park’s colorful badlands. The trail is mostly flat, but visitors should be prepared for some rocky terrain. This hike offers great views of the park’s colorful badlands and ancient ruins.
  3. Agate House Trail: This moderate trail is a 1-mile round trip that takes visitors to an ancient pueblo ruin. The trail is mostly flat and visitors can see the remains of an ancient pueblo and learn about the park’s history.
  4. Giant Logs Trail: This strenuous trail is a 1-mile round trip that takes visitors to some of the largest pieces of petrified wood in the park. The trail is steep and rocky and visitors should be prepared for a challenging hike.
  5. Long Logs Trail: This strenuous trail is a 0.5-mile round trip that takes visitors through an area of petrified wood. The trail is steep and rocky and visitors should be prepared for a challenging hike. This trail is also one of the less visited trails in the park, allowing for a more secluded hike.

Before starting any of the hikes, it’s important to check the park’s website for trail conditions and to bring enough water and snacks. Visitors should also be aware of the park’s wildlife and keep a safe distance. It’s also important to stay on designated trails to protect the park’s resources.

Accommodations

Petrified Forest National Park offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors. The park has a campground that provides tent and RV camping. The campground has 40 sites for tents and RVs, and it’s open year-round. The campsites have picnic tables, fire rings, and toilets, but no hookups for RVs. Visitors should note that the campground fills up quickly, especially during the summer months, so it’s best to make a reservation in advance.

The park also has a number of backcountry campsites that are available by permit only. As stated before, back country camping is permitted with a permit. Backcountry camping is a great option for visitors who want a more secluded and wilderness experience. Visitors should be aware that backcountry camping requires more planning and preparation, and they should be familiar with the park’s rules and regulations regarding backcountry camping.

Visitors who prefer more comfortable accommodation can find it in nearby towns such as Holbrook and Winslow, where they can find hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. When visiting you should plan ahead and book early as accommodations in the area fill up quickly, especially during the peak season.

Overall, the park offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors to suit different preferences and budgets. Visitors should plan ahead and make a reservation in advance to ensure they have a place to stay during their visit.

Safety

Visiting Petrified Forest National Park is generally safe, but visitors should be aware of certain hazards and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Weather: The park’s weather can be unpredictable and can change quickly. To protect yourself from hot temperatures, visitors must bring enough water, wear sunscreen, and bring a hat when visiting the park. Visitors should also be aware of the park’s flash flood warning system and take necessary precautions during a flash flood warning.
  • Hiking: Visitors should be prepared for the park’s rugged terrain and bring appropriate gear for hiking, such as a backpack, hiking boots, and a map.
  • Wildlife: Visitors should be aware of the park’s wildlife and keep a safe distance. The park is home to a variety of animals, such as pronghorn, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. Visitors should also be aware of snakes and other hazards in the park.
  • First Aid: Visitors should be prepared for emergencies and bring a first aid kit, and be familiar with the park’s emergency services. Visitors should also be aware of the park’s emergency phone numbers and know how to contact the park’s rangers in case of an emergency.
  • Car Safety: Visitors should be aware of the park’s speed limit and obey traffic signs and signals. Visitors should also be aware of the park’s wildlife and take necessary precautions to avoid hitting animals on the road.

What’s In The Surrounding Area

In addition to Petrified Forest National Park, there are many other points of interest in the surrounding area. Here are a few things to check out:

  • Holbrook: This nearby town is known for its historic Route 66 attractions. Visitors can take a stroll down the historic main street and see the Wigwam Motel, a unique lodging option featuring teepee-shaped cabins.
  • Homolovi Ruins State Park: This state park is located about 30 miles east of the National Park and is home to ancient Puebloan ruins. Visitors can hike to the ruins and learn about the ancient civilization that lived in the area.
  • Meteor Crater: This large impact crater is located about 35 miles east of Petrified Forest National Park and is caused by a meteorite. Visitors can take a guided tour of the crater and learn about its formation and history.
  • Painted Desert Indian Center: Located in the heart of the park, the Painted Desert Indian Center offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the park’s native people. Visitors can learn about the ancient Puebloan people who lived in the area over 800 years ago, and shop for Native American crafts and jewelry.
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument: Located about 100 miles east of the park, this national monument features ancient cliff dwellings, ruins and scenic views. Visitors can hike to the ruins and learn about the ancient civilization that lived in the area.

Petrified Forest National Park Wrap Up

The Petrified forest is a unique and beautiful destination that offers something for everyone. The park’s colorful badlands, petrified wood, and ancient ruins make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting northeastern Arizona. Whether you’re interested in hiking, history, or just enjoying the scenery, the park is a great place to visit. Just be sure to follow the rules and regulations to help protect the park’s resources, and take necessary precautions for your safety.

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