Petrified Forest National Park
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It may not be quite as famous as the Grand Canyon, but no visit to northern Arizona is complete without a trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Covering over 220 square miles of Technicolor desert, there’s way more to this park than its namesake fossilized wood. Petrified Forest is also home to numerous paleontological exhibits, petroglyphs, and a wide range of living flora and fauna, including coyotes, bobcats, pronghorns, and over 200 species of birds. The park’s landscape has been inhabited by humans for at least 8,000 years, and more than 600 archeological sites within the park’s boundaries reveal just a few of our ancient ancestors’ secrets.
Petrified Forest National Park is situated in the northern reaches of Arizona’s high desert climate, which means its temperatures vary widely -- both by season and sometimes within a single day. July highs can easily reach over 100 F, while the winter sees temperatures below freezing and occasional snow storms. Because the weather at the park is so variable, it’s important to dress in layers and bring waterproof clothing. Check the park’s weather page and local forecasts for full and up-to-date details.
The park is located about midway between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, and is easily reached via I-40. Communities in the park’s direct vicinity include the small towns of Sanders, Joseph City, and Holbrook. Winslow, Arizona -- of Eagles song fame -- is about an hour west of the park.
Visitors come to Petrified Forest National Park to enjoy this unique and surreal landscape, a surprising splash of color in the desert’s depths. Along with hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding, the Park Service also hosts a variety of ranger-led events, including guided tours and cultural demonstrations. For full details on current events, check the park’s official calendar before your trip.
- Spring 65-75 F
- Summer 90-95 F
- Fall 75-80 F
- Winter 45-55 F
- Coming soon
- Petrified Forest National Park Private Vehicle: $20
- Petrified Forest National Park Motorcycle: $15
- Petrified Forest National Park Per Person: $10
RV Rentals Near Petrified Forest National Park
Nearby RV Rentals
Petrified Forest National Park Hiking Trails
The best way to experience Petrified Forest National Park is on foot -- and there are plenty of different ways to do it. If a short and relatively easy nature stroll is what you’re after, the park offers a wide variety of designated trails, often with interpretive signage and guidance. Alternatively, if you want to take on a multi-day backcountry camping adventure, you can do that, too -- create your own way “off the beaten path” to discover untold treasures.
Below, we’ve listed a few of the demarcated trails in the park, but you can check out the park’s hiking information page for more details and guidelines. No matter which trail you take (or even if you go off into the unmarked wilderness), do not pick up or take home petrified wood. Doing so is illegal… and also takes away from the park’s beauty for future visitors.
Things to do Outside Petrified Forest National Park
After you’ve had your fill of Petrified Forest’s unique fossilized wood deposits and rainbow-painted sand dunes, get your fill of delicious Mexican food -- or whatever your appetite longs for.
From tasty eats to informative cultural exhibits, here’s what to see and do in northeastern Arizona.
RV Resorts & Campsites near Petrified Forest National Park
There are no developed campgrounds in Petrified Forest National Park, and overnight parking is not allowed. However, RVers can choose from a variety of both public and private camping options in the nearby area.
Campgrounds Near Petrified Forest National Park
Find the Best Dumpstations Near Petrified Forest National Park
How to get to Petrified Forest National Park
Although it’s in quite a remote location, Petrified Forest National Park is easy to access thanks to its proximity to I40, also known as historic Route 66. The highway runs directly adjacent to the park, and exits are well-marked with directive signage.
The nearest airports to Petrified Forest National Park are in Flagstaff, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico; large hubs are available in Phoenix and Albuquerque. For those with access to private planes, there is also a small airstrip in Holbrook.
Renting an RV is an ideal way to experience America’s desert southwest, including Petrified Forest National Park. A motorhome or travel trailer gives you the best combination of road-trip flexibility and private-bungalow comfort and convenience. You can easily stitch together an epic, winding tour of the nation’s parks without ever having to repack your suitcase (or grimace through a night in a so-so hotel room).
Frequently Asked Questions
October is the best time of year to visit Petrified Forest National Park. The weather is cooler in October than in the hot summer months, and there are fewer crowds as well.
Top things to do at Petrified Forest National Park include visiting the Crystal Forest, walking the Painted Desert Rim Trail, and seeing Puerco Pueblo and Newspaper Rock.
No, there are no designated camping spots at Petrified Forest National Park. Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit. There are several RV campgrounds near the park, however.
Yes, pets are allowed at Petrified Forest National Park. Pets are allowed on any paved road or trail in the park, as well as in all official wilderness areas. Pets are not allowed inside park buildings. You can also enroll your pet to become an official Bark Ranger at any visitor center or entrance booth and nab a special treat for your pet.
The climate of Petrified Forest National Park is semi-arid grassland. Temperatures in the park can soar above 100° F in summer, and dive below freezing in winter. Summer can also bring large thunderstorms although the area is mostly very dry.
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