The 200-million-year-old trees and breathtaking views combine with colorful wildflowers and exciting hikes for a fantastic park experience.
The ancient trees of Petrified Forest National Park turned to quartz over many years as minerals from volcanic ash and silica replaced plant material. Once a forest, the area is now a semi-arid grassland. View beautiful desert flowers, shrubs and striking landscapes which perfectly complement the forest of fossilized logs.
The quickest way to reach petrified wood is by hiking Giant Logs loop. Follow the easy 0.4-mile (0.6-kilometer) walk along a paved trail to some of the park’s largest and most colorful petrified logs. Along the trail, notice the petrified log “Old Faithful,” which is almost 10 feet (3 meters) wide.
While most of the petrified wood is spread throughout the park’s southern half, the northern half is known for the colorful hills of the Painted Desert. To fully experience the beauty of the desert, hike the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) round-trip Painted Desert Rim Trail.
Enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your car by driving the 28-mile (45-kilometer) park road. Overlooks such as Kachina Point offer stunning views of the colors of the Painted Desert. Forgoing a hike doesn’t mean you’ll miss seeing petrified wood. Just a few steps from the Agate Bridge parking lot is a large petrified log lying across a small ravine. Allow a minimum of 1.5 hours to drive through the park with stops at various attractions.
The park is open year-round but most popular during the summer. Colorful wildflowers light up the desert from March through October, depending on the level of rainfall. On crisp winter days, visibility across the desert can reach 100 miles (160 kilometers). Check for trail openings during winter.
Petrified Forest National Park is located in eastern Arizona, less than a 2-hour drive east of Flagstaff along historic Route 66. Park entrance has a fee. Note that petrified wood cannot be taken from the preserved park, but small pieces from elsewhere in the state are available for purchase.
U.S. national parks offer affordable access to some of the country’s tallest mountains and oldest geologic formations. Enjoy your visit to the colorful desert and ancient trees of Petrified Forest National Park.