Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Region in Arizona, United States
Petrified Forest National Park Trail Map

While it might not draw the same number of visitors as some of the state’s top parks, Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is an underrated gem with some of the most interesting landscapes in the state. This park, nestled into the northeastern side of the state, is a work of art that took millions of years to create. 225 million years ago, this area was a tropical lowland filled with 200ft conifers. As tectonic plate movement thrust the Colorado Plateau upwards, a massive Triassic river system dumped its sediments on the earth before retreating. Years upon years of erosion carved out what you see today: colorful striped badlands and hoodoos covered in the petrified fossils of those ancient trees. Those fossils, sometimes still as huge as the original trees, are deeply crystallized into a constellation of colors, and they’re scattered all over the park.

The archeological significance of the park doesn’t stop there. Around 650 years ago, native communities lived in this unforgiving place, and their pueblos, houses, and petroglyphs still stand. From a house built out of agate to the bright stripes of the mesas to the petrified tree fossils, this park is a place quite unlike any other. Part of the Painted Desert, a desert defined by bright red clay deposits, lies within the park. The best part? Its compact size makes it easy to explore in a day or two, and the trails in the park are not only dog-friendly, but are often short and family-friendly. With everything accessible off the main north-south park road, Petrified Forest National Park is a worthy day trip for outdoor adventurers.

We’re here to help you plan your adventures in Petrified Forest National Park, a place that leaves you feeling like you might’ve just walked on another planet altogether.

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