The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, USA is about a 30 mile road that runs North and South. I started from the north entrance off of I-40 exit 311. The scenery seemed to get better as I traveled south. The height of the show was at the south entrance where there was a walkway through the beautiful petrified logs called Crystal Forest. No commercial semi-trucks/trailers allowed, but RVs and travel trailers are okay.
For truckers, there is a petrified wood park in Holbrook for yous! You can drop your trailer and bobtail into the park or walk through; there is a gift store/rock shop there too.
Painted Desert Inn
The Painted Desert Inn is located near the North entrance to the park. You can’t stay or eat there anymore, it is now a preserved historical land mark and a museum that you can walk through and look around. Below are images of the inside of the Painted Desert Inn.
For a larger view, click on the image.
Hiking: There were several self-guided trails at the “over look” pointed areas. There was a hiking trail behind the Painted Desert Inn that went down to the base of the canyons, then once down there you can walk all around. Going back up the trail I’d consider “moderate to high impact” as it is somewhat steep. The trail at Blue Mesa Point was a fun 1 mile walk around the bottom of the painted desert canyons with petrified logs, however the trail down and up the canyon is a bit steep. The trail at Crystal Forest is real easy for anyone, it was simply a walk-through. And there was another easy walk-through behind the south entrance visitor center.
Camping: None! There are no overnight facilities. You either have to overnight park at either exits east and west of the Petrified Forest National Park on I-4o or at the south entrance there is a Gift Shop with overnight parking.
Facilities: There are Petrified Forest gift stores at both north and south entrances. The north entrance is called the Painted Desert Visitor Center which is the main pit stop for information, bathrooms, phone, gas, restaurant, gift store, water fountain, and picnicking. The south entrance is called Rainbow Forest Museum which has a gift store, water fountain, phone, bathrooms, and information, picnicking, (no food service). There are bathrooms throughout the park.
Fee: In November 2015, I paid a $20 fee for a seven-day pass, there was no one-day pass. I did the drive through in one day because winter weather was coming in. In fact the day I was there it was a nice sunny and 65 degrees, but it was extremely windy…rain and snow was on the way. So I kept going south to Phoenix area to stay in nice weather.
The Petrified Forest Story (in short)
Some like 200 millions years ago was a forest with an evolving river. Trees fell into the river, floated many miles until they got waterlogged and sank. At the bottom of river floor where they laid for millions of years, the trees began to become crystallized from the minerals in the water and other floorbed sediments as they got covered up with river floorbed. Overtime, the wood of the tree became petrified … the wood was replaced with rock (beautiful crystallized rock). Then as the water of the river began to dry up, the petrified logs began to emerge from the land and appear. Ancient people built their dwellings with the petrified wood.
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