Located in the quiet northeastern corner of the state, Petrified Forest National Park is majorly overshadowed by other Arizona parks. Pulling in about 600,00 visitors a year, this underrated park is quiet and not too crowded compared to the Grand Canyon which attracts over 4 million visitors a year.
A perfect spot to explore and reconnect with the outdoors, here are a few things you should know about this colorful national park.
Petrified Forest is actually one of the only national parks in the country that is directly bisected by Route 66 making it a fantastic destination to get to via road trip. Park Road spans 28 miles throughout the park and is the main path of travel bringing visitors past insanely scenic overlooks, trails, and attractions.
An area that was once home to dinosaurs and dense forests, this park now features the largest collection of giant petrified logs in the world that have been transformed into quartz. A beautiful sight to behold, this kaleidoscopic shine is brought on by carbon, iron, and manganese.
It's best to start your journey off at the visitor center. Here you'll find exhibits and an introductory film show that explains how these soaring high trees were transformed into the colorful boulders that they are today.
Some absolute must-sees include the Newspaper Rock, an extraordinary display of petroglyphs that are believed to have been created between 1000–1500 CE.
Some of the best trails to hike here include the Blue Mesa Trail and Giant Logs Trail. Along the way, you'll spot colorful mountains and logs as large as RVs. All trails located within the park are easy under 3-mile hikes and dog friendly.
At an elevation of around 5,800 feet, the park isn’t as hot as the rest of the state but an important factor to keep in mind is Arizona can reach well over 90 degrees in peak summer months like July and August. The best times to visit would be early in the day or later at night once the sun begins to set. The park is open from 8 am to 6 pm.
Petrified Forest is located in a remote area with sparse dining and hotel options. Camping isn't allowed inside the park however visitors can opt to stay at nearby sites including Lyman Lake State Park and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The nearest town is Holbrook where you'll find some affordable hotels.