Planning your summer road trip? Check out this Petrified Forest Travel Guide before you go!
Located in the remote and arid Painted Desert region of Northeastern Arizona, the Petrified Forest is one of the most unique landscapes around! You’ll find ancient petrified logs lay scattered about the red and blue hues of the mesas, which creates a bizarre-yet-beautiful sight.
This Petrified Forest Travel Guide will show you the very best things to do in the park, and some nearby destinations, too. So, if you’re planning a big road trip through the Southwest, or just heading down I-40 and want an interesting place to spend the afternoon, I know you’ll enjoy the Petrified Forest!
So, are you ready to explore this national park? Keep reading to find out more…
Petrified Forest Travel Guide
All of the Petrified Forest’s attractions lie along the Petrified Forest Road, which runs 28 miles from US Route 180 to the South to I-40 to the North. The attractions here are listed from south to north.
#1: Long Logs and Agate House (2.6 miles)
This loop trail will take you past an ancient pueblo-style dwelling, as well as a small ‘grove’ of petrified wood.
Similar to the Wupatki ruins near Flagstaff, and Casa Grande Ruins near Phoenix, the 8 room Agate House dwelling was build in ‘pueblo’ form. However, it’s unique because it’s made out of petrified wood!
#2: Giant Logs Trail
As you probably guessed by the name of this trail, the giant logs trail takes you near some truly ginormous petrified logs! The largest of which, aptly named ‘Old Faithful’ is 35 feet in length and 10 feet in diameter at the base.
#3: Crystal Forest
This was by far my favorite hike in the petrified forest. You’ll be rewarded by seeing the stunning logs up close. Look close enough at them, and you’ll see a wide array of colors in the wood – red, green, blue, etc.
#4: Jasper Forest
This overlook has sweeping views over one the biggest ‘forests’ of petrified wood in the park. You can still see the old dirt road that used to go through here in the photo below, however, walking through Jasper Forest is off limits now.
#5: Agate Bridge
When you pair a delicate mix of wind and rain beating against sandstone, eventually, you’ll get an arch, or natural bridge. This is very common in the Southwest with constantly shifting weather patters. However, it’s not every day you see a natural bridge… make of petrified wood! With a span of 110 feet, Agate Bridge is really one of the greatest feats of nature showcased in the park.
#6: Blue Mesa Trail
This 0.9-mile loop trail takes you right through the spectacular bluffs of the painted desert! You can see the wide array of colors in the dirt from up close, making this easy trail very interesting. It’s also a great way to learn about the unique landscape of the painted desert firsthand.
#7: Puerco Pueblo
This historic pueblo-style dwelling shouldn’t be missed on a visit to the Petrified Forest! Right off the main road, you can see the remains of what was a 100-room pueblo dwelling which reached its peak in 1300.
#8: Painted Desert Rim Trail
This 1 mile trail runs between Kachina Point and Tawa Point, in the northern end of the Petrified Forest. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over the vast painted desert. Overall, it’s a nice last stop (or first stop) on your visit to the park.
Petrified Forest National Park – Nearby Destinations:
Experience a wave of nostalgia as you drive through this former Route 66 town. Be sure to stop at Gillespie Park to see the model dinosaurs, as well as the Wigwam Motel – the unique teepee motel that at one point was a big chain across the US! This is the only remaining location intact.
Flagstaff Area (Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Wupatki National Monuments)
Less than 2 hours down I-40 from Petrified Forest, you’ll find Flagstaff, a beautiful mountain town with 3 epic national monuments nearby: Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon.
Start out by visiting Walnut Canyon, a park is home to cliff dwellings that can be reached by a 1 mile, 180 ft elevation change trail. Along the way, you’ll pass by about 20 or so cliff dwellings.
The trails are paved, but be sure to bring water as the climb out and up the stairs is a bit steep.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Next, you’ll drive through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. With a scenic drive that passes several cinder cone volcanoes this is seriously a unique place that shouldn’t be missed!
Since Sunset Crater Volcano borders Wupatki, there’s no entrance fee between the parks. Wupatki is home to a handful of historic pueblos dotting the painted desert landscape. The two best ones to visit are Wukoki Pueblo, one you can walk inside, and Wupatki Pueblo, a huge 100 room pueblo you can walk around!
Wukoki Pueblo – Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki Pueblo – Wupatki National Monument
Grand Canyon National Park
To put it simply, the Grand Canyon is breathtaking! There’s no other place that compares to its vastness. Seeing the Grand Canyon is a bucket list destination itself, so adding it to your Petrified Forest trip is the best of all worlds.
For information on what to see and do in the Grand Canyon, check out my comprehensive Arizona Grand Canyon Travel Tips post.
Now that you’ve seen this Petrified Forest Travel Guide, go check out even more travel tips below…
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Have YOU ever been to the Petrified Forest?? What are YOUR favorite things to do there?
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