Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Quick Facts

Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona

(928) 524-6228

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Petrified Forest is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. With one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood, multi-hued badlands of the Painted Desert, historic structures, archeological sites, native grassland, and displays of over 200-million-year-old fossils, this is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science.

Outdoor park activities include sightseeing, walking trails with your pet on a leash, photography, hiking, geocaching: EarthCaching, horseback riding, backpacking, photography, and wildlife and bird watching. The park also has over 52,000 acres of designated wilderness you can explore!

Map of Petrified Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 35.066436, -109.780834

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Activities

  • Bird Watching

    At Petrified Forest National Park, birds can find food and shelter that may not be available in other regions on their journeys from habitat to habitat. Patches of healthy, undeveloped habitats are found in the modern fragmented landscape, connected by corridors such as Petrified Forest National Park.

    Petrified Forest has a variety of habitats. Raptors, songbirds and ground birds can be found in the grassland. Riparian corridors provide food and shelter for warblers, vireos, avocets, killdeer, and others. The exotic and native trees and shrubs around the Visitor Center and Rainbow Forest Museum provide home for western tanagers, hermit warblers, and house finches. The park also offers sightings of vagrant shore birds and rare Eastern birds not seen often in Arizona. Rarities, such as black-throated blue warbler, have been found by Maricopa Audubon Society members. September and early October seem to be the best time to visit the area to see these fascinating vagrants.

  • Bicycling

    Bicycles are not allowed on trails or off roads at any time.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Travel through the park is by private vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, or commercial tour only. The park road, parking lots, and pull outs are suitable for large recreation vehicles, including those towing smaller vehicles. Off road vehicle travel is not allowed within the park, including mountain bikes. Travel time through the park is at least 45 minutes, though an average visit is 2-3 hours with stops at viewpoints or trails along the park road.

  • Camping

    Petrified Forest National Park does not have campground facilities, and overnight parking is not allowed.

    Backpack camping is allowed within the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area, requiring, at minimum, a 1 mile hike away from two designated parking spots. A free backcountry permit is available from one of the visitor centers during park hours. Permits may not be attained in advance and must be acquired at least 1 hour before park closing. Park hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. MST in winter and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. MST in summer.

    There following are popular camping options outside the park. The list is not all inclusive, and the National Park Service does not endorse the use of any of the following facilities:

    Outside the south entrance of the park, at the junction of the park road and Highway 180, two privately owned gift shops allow overnight parking in their parking lots.

    Off Interstate 40, about 18 miles west of the north entrance to the park, Sun Valley has the "Root 66 RV Park" with hook-ups.

    In Holbrook, 26 miles west of the park, there is both a KOA and a Good Sam's RV park (the OK RV Park). For more information about places to stay, contact the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce at (800) 524-2459 or write them at 100 E. Arizona, Holbrook, AZ 86025.

    Near Gallup, New Mexico, 1 hour east of the park, is Red Rock State Park, with a campground and facilities.

    For more primitive camping, Rock Art Ranch, 20 miles east of Holbrook or 13 miles west of Winslow, and accessed via 10+ miles of unimproved road, allows overnight stays at the top of a narrow canyon famous for its collection of petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings). This is a very special place where only pictures should be taken and hands kept off the walls. The canyon has water running year round and is a true oasis in this parched land. A toilet and shade shelter are provided at the camping area. Reservations must be made in advance as this is private land and access is denied without the owner's permission. The number to contact is (928) 288-3260 or (928) 386-5047.

  • Hiking

    One of the best ways to enjoy and experience Petrified Forest National Park is on foot. Maintained trails range in length from one-third mile to almost three miles.

    You can also hike in the trail-less Wilderness Area, as a day hike or on an overnight backpacking trip.

    Stay on designated trails in developed hiking areas. Off-trail hiking damages the fragile grassland environment and disturbs wildlife habitat, creating unsightly "social" trails. Leaving the designated trail can also be hazardous for hikers due to loose rock and dangerous cliffs.

    Pets must be kept on leash and are allowed on maintained trails. Pets are not permitted in the park buildings or in Wilderness Areas; this regulation does not include service animals, of course.

  • Historic Sites

    The Painted Desert Inn, a National Historic Landmark within Petrified Forest National Park houses a museum and bookstore.

    The Cultural Demonstrator Program at Petrified Forest National Park provides the opportunity for regional peoples to share their history and traditional crafts in the dynamic setting of Petrified Forest National Park.

    The park promotes awareness and appreciation for the diverse history and cultures of the region on Saturdays in March, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and November. Through cultural demonstrators, the park recognizes the ancient peoples, intertribal relationships, European-descent cultures and even Route 66 history. Artisans are typically available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST at the Painted Desert Inn National Historical Landmark.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding at Petrified Forest National Park can be a unique and rewarding experience. You can ride for a few hours or a few days. Be prepared, check the weather conditions, and know the limits of yourself and your horse.

    Wilderness Access: Two miles north of the Painted Desert Visitor Center, is the wilderness access trail near Kachina Point, on the northwest side of Painted Desert Inn. Here you will find trailer parking and loading/unloading room. Please park your trailer so that it does not interfere with vehicle traffic flow.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is encouraged; please pick up trash.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Animal life at Petrified Forest includes amphibians, birds, insects, spiders, mammals, and reptiles. Birds, lizards and rabbits are seen most frequently, though seasons and weather play a large role in determining what animals are active.

    You are much more likely to see animal life in the park if you come as early as park hours allow and stay as late as allowed. These are also the times when the angle of the sun makes the views and colors of the Painted Desert most spectacular.

    Whenever you are in a national park, do not approach, feed, or harass any wildlife. Help your parks reduce the impact of human visitors to the homeland of many wild species.

Seasonality/Weather

Open year-round.

Park Partners

Petrified Forest Museum Association

The Petrified Forest Museum Association is the park's cooperating association, providing funding, staff, and supplies. This non-profit organization also manages three bookstores in the park, located in the Painted Desert Visitor Center, Painted Desert Inn, and Rainbow Forest Museum. The Petrified Forest Museum Association helps promote interpretive and education programs, and scientific research and resource understanding. They also produce park-specific publications and materials and help prepare the park for future generations.

(928) 524-6228

Xanterra Parks & Resorts

Xanterra manages the gift shops located at the north and south entrances of Petrified Forest National Park. Also located at the north entrance is a restaurant, gas/convenience store and the National Park Service visitor center. The Rainbow Forest Museum and a seasonal snack bar (summer months only) can be found at the south entrance.

(928) 524-3756

Directions

Driving

Driving from Phoenix you have several choices: 1) travel Interstates 17 North and 40 East, passing through Flagstaff (259 miles), or 2) travel Highways 87 North to Payson, 260 East to Heber, 377 North to Holbrook, and 180 South to the park (215 miles).

Driving from Albuquerque travel 204 miles west on Interstate 40 to Exit 311.

Westbound Interstate 40 travelers should take Exit 311, drive the 28 miles through the park and connect with Highway 180 at the south end. Travel 19 miles on Highway 180 North to return to Interstate 40 via Holbrook.

Eastbound Interstate 40 travelers should take Exit 285 into Holbrook then travel 19 miles on Highway 180 South to the park's south entrance. Drive the 28 miles north through the park to return to Interstate 40.

Flying

The nearest major airports are in Phoenix, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once you get to the airport, you may want to rent a car and drive to the park.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(928) 524-6228

Links