Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

A Rare Success

Petrified Forest National Park – now there’s something you don’t get a chance to hear every day. The name itself sounds like it’s hiding its origins in a script of a horror movie, but that’s not the case. A very cool and unusual place indeed, the Petrified Forest National Park is everything but the stuff of cheap, “B” production motion pictures. It is an actual, living monument to the history of this amazing planet, one that our past generations have wronged, but fortunately, not irreversibly. This awesome place has many tales to tell, and we bet you’re interested in hearing the one we’ll gladly share with you.

It is not very often that you’ll be in a situation to hear something (better to say – anything) about a place as unique and interesting as this one. “Very often” becomes “plainly impossible” when you realize that the vast majority of our home world has already been thoroughly explored, not to mention settled. But, no matter what the reason is that made you click on this particular article, we at are greatly thankful for it. Why? Well, because consequentially we will have a chance to share with you our limited knowledge of the Petrified Forest National Park, one of the rarest and most characteristic natural areas that managed to surprise even us. Though we don’t surprise easily, trust us when we tell you that such a place has not yet fallen under our keyboards, let alone our travel-hungry gaze.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona – One Man’s Garbage Is Another Man’s Treasure

The Apache and Navajo counties in the northeastern region of Arizona are home to the Petrified Forest National Park. Certainly the biggest question while you’re reading this is “why is it called that?” If you ask us, it’s pretty obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: large deposits of petrified wood, scattered all over its 146 square miles (380 square kilometers) of surface, are the main culprit. This corner of the Painted Desert manages to bring in over 600,000 visitors on a yearly level. The reason for such interest is rooted, at least partly, in the fact that the area, although today a vast grassland, used to be a radically different environment, some 200 million years ago.

The Petrified Forest National Park has been known, from the beginning of the 20th century, for its fossil remnants; primarily in the form of fallen trees, these sediments, which contain the fossil logs, have been dated back 225 million years. Various other types of fossils have also been found in the Petrified Forest National Park, including early dinosaurs, large amphibians, giant reptiles, ginkoes, cycads, ferns etc.

Recent legislation has authorized the expansion of the Petrified Forest National Park’s present territory to 218,533 acres (thereby doubling its total surface). Currently, two main sections comprise the majority of the Park. The north is home to the Painted Desert’s eye-catching banded badlands, whereas the south is the reason how the Park got its name. The famous characteristic petrified wood is concentrated primarily in this area of the Petrified Forest National Park, appearing mostly as enormous logs that lie around in a fossilized form.


Who Does That?!

Although we don’t believe in coincidences, we will admit that sometimes things seem to happen for no apparent reason. So, if you happen to be passing by the Park on Christmas and suddenly think about what a good idea it would be to check it out while you’re there (we know it sounds like a long shot, but who knows), we’re sorry to tell you that you’ll only be able to see yourselves continuing on with your journey after getting no further than the Petrified Forest National Park’s locked front gate. However, should you choose to check it out literally any other day of the year, you’ll definitely have a great time during your stay.

If you do go with the sensible option of planning your visit for any of the other 364 days of the year that aren’t Christmas, you’ll have plenty of options. For example, sightseeing is always fun, regardless of whether you’re using your own two feet, a private car, bicycle, motorcycle or a commercial tour. Even recreational vehicles are more than welcome in the park, as the turn-outs, parking lots and the park road are all big enough to accommodate them. Keep in mind that no form of off-road vehicle travel is permitted, and that even includes mountain biking. If you’re planning to use a bicycle, you’ll have to stick to the only two paved roads in the Park: the loop around Blue Mesa, with a length of 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers), and the main park road, with a length of 28 miles (45 kilometers).

Definitely Not A Waste Of Time

Also, please remember that you won’t be able to find overnight accommodations in the park, including camping. If you really set your mind to it, you’ll probably be able to find a motel or other type of lodging in the nearby community of Holbrook. Additionally, unless you’re a backpacker and happen to have a wilderness hiking permit, you’ll also be denied overnight parking.

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When it comes to regularly scheduled events in the Petrified Forest National Park, you’re in luck as they are plentiful. Guided walks of Puerco Pueblo, a walk or talk along the Giant Logs Trail, a Triassic program at the sunroom of the Rainbow Forest Museum and even a Painted Desert Inn tour encompass just a small part of them. Park rangers also offer a great number of programs focused on the history, environment, protection and interesting facts of the park. In addition to these, you’ll also be able to attend several special events related to the National American Indian Heritage Month, as well as Earth Science Week. Cultural demonstrations regarding European-descent cultures, intertribal relationships, as well as ancient peoples in general are hosted by artisans from the region at the Painted Desert Inn, every Saturday between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Between May and November, you’ll also have a unique chance to visit and get to know the Park’s artists-in-residence.

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