Despite its name, expect to see more geologic marvels than standing trees along this easy loop trail in Petrified Forest National Park.
Walk through history along the Crystal Forest Loop. Discover this particular gem in the heart of Petrified Forest National Park. The short hike is accessible for most visitors and offers a glimpse into some of eastern Arizona’s most unique geologic formations.
Follow the Crystal Forest Loop and see a land where ancient trees have gradually turned into stone over a long passage of time. The trail earns its name from the stunning crystals embedded within the petrified logs that line its path. As you see the brilliantly hued relics from an ancient world, imagine the changes that have occurred over hundreds of millions of years.
The petrified trees along the Crystal Forest Loop are ancient. The petrification process began when the trees were buried under volcanic ash and mud released chemicals. During decomposition, chemicals reacted with the wood to create quartz crystals, which became colored because of the varied minerals in the water. Over millions of years, the crystals covered the logs, eventually turning them into stone. Stop and read the informative signs along the trail to learn more about the history visible in the rock formations.
Use the Crystal Forest as a starting point to explore the rest of Petrified Forest National Park. Stroll, hike and even drive through some of the park’s top sights. Enjoy the vast vistas unspoiled by humans before your eyes. Find fossils, petroglyphs and other ancient relics.
Holbrook is the closest town to the Crystal Forest Loop. Reach the town by car in about 30 minutes. Holbrook sits on the famous Historic Route 66 highway and offers a bustling town center and plenty of things to see and do.
The Crystal Forest Loop is just 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) in length. Find the trailhead at the Crystal Forest parking area. Be sure to admire the petrified wood in its natural setting and leave it there for others to enjoy after your visit.