The diversity of Petrified Forest National Park is so broad, it is hard to describe. A fascinating combination of anthropology, geology, and modern history, the variation found in the park is captivating. From the gorgeous segments of colorful petrified wood to the stunning expanse of painted desert, this park is a feast for the eyes and begs to be explored.
If you go, start your day at the Painted Desert Visitor’s Center, watch the park orientation video and pick up Junior Ranger packets. We all did the Junior Ranger program at Petrified Forest National Park and really enjoyed it. Junior Ranger badges are my favorite thing to collect from National Parks!
Highlights of our trip to Petrified Forest National Park include the easy paved trail behind the visitor’s center which boasted large sections of beautiful petrified wood before heading through the park’s scenic drive. Make sure to stop for a look at Newspaper Rock, a huge rock covered with over 600 petroglyphs, Puerco Pueblo, ruins that date from the 1300’s, the Route 66 exhibit, and some of the most scenic viewpoints you will ever see. If time permits, stay for sunset- the colors that bloomed over the desert as the sun set were breathtaking. We were only able to spend one full day in Petrified Forest National Park, but were still able to experience many things we had never seen before.
If You Go to Petrified Forest National Park-
-While backpacking is allowed in Petrified Forest National Park, there are no established campgrounds. We camped at the Holbrook Petrified Forest National Park KOA a short drive away, which was perfectly adequate although slightly noisy with highway sounds.
– Bring a picnic for food while visiting Petrified Forest National Park as there is only one small restaurant, the Painted Desert Diner, located in the park.
-Taking anything from Petrified Forest National Park, including petrified wood, is illegal. If you really want to take a piece of petrified wood home with you, there are pieces for sale in the National Park gift shop.