Petrified Forest National Park, located in northeastern Arizona, is a popular location any time of the year, with about 645,000 people visiting annually. Designated a national park in 1962, it’s 221,390 acres in size, which includes more than 50,000 acres of designated Wilderness, hundreds of species of plants and animals, and more than 800 archeological and historic sites.
But perhaps the biggest attraction is the petrified wood from which the park got its name. The park has one of the largest concentrations in the world, with other large ones found in North Dakota, Argentina, and Egypt. While about a dozen types of petrified wood have been formally described, there are still more species that have yet to be described.
Bringing a pet? You’re in luck since Petrified Forest National Park welcomes them. A special Bark Ranger program to ensure pets and their owners enjoy the park while knowing the rules for safe pet visiting. Pets must be kept on a leash and under control at all times and — with the exception of service animals — are not allowed in buildings. More information is available at any park entrance booth or visitor center.
Access and Hours
There are two entrances into the park, both from Interstate 40: westbound travelers should take Exit 311 and eastbound travelers Exit 285. For more detailed directions to the park and the nearest airports, go here. Note: Credit cards are the only means of payment at both entrances.
Entrance fees to the park are $25 for a seven-day pass for cars, $15 per person for bikes, and $20 for motorcycles (flat fee), with an annual pass at $45 also available. The park also accepts all the America the Beautiful Passes. Click here for a listing of the six fee-free days at all National Park Service sites.
Petrified Forest National Park is open at different hours during the year, with park road hours currently 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. While the park road and parking areas can accommodate larger RVs, even those with towed vehicles, it’s advised to avoid Pintado Point and Agate Bridge, due to a tight turnaround if other vehicles are present.
The park has three visitor centers: Painted Desert Visitor Center in the historic Painted Desert Community Complex, Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark (temporarily closed as of this writing), and Rainbow Forest Museum. See Operating Hours & Seasons for current visitor center hours.
Once you arrive at Petrified Forest National Park, you have a range of activities to choose from as well as those special events listed on the park’s Calendar. Consider a drive through the park. The 28-mile park road has spurs and viewpoints along the way to stop and enjoy the landscape from various outlooks. The southern end is where the highest concentrations of petrified wood can be found, while the northern end highlights the human story and Painted Deserts vistas. If you need more ideas, visit the Trip Itineraries page.
Ready to stretch your legs? Trails include the one-mile Painted Desert Rim Trail, the one-third-mile Puerco Pueblo loop, the one-mile Blue Mesa loop, the three-quarter-mile Crystal Forest loop, the 0.4-mile Giant Logs loop, and the two-mile Agate House trail. Most trails are paved and barrier-free, but several have grades in excess of ADA requirements.
Want to go off-trail? Backcountry hiking is permitted—just get a free guide at one of the visitor centers. More information about Off the Beaten Path routes and hiking in designated Wilderness Areas is available here. Other options for exploring the park include bicycling and horseback riding.
Geocaching—virtual, traditional, and Earthcaches—is another popular activity at Petrified Forest National Park. You can participate at either Geocaching.com or by downloading The Geocaching® app onto your device. Some caches are part of the Find Your Park GeoTour or the Historic Route 66 Geocaching Project. The park has also placed its own geocaches in the park, but don’t put your own caches on lands managed by the National Park Service and other agencies since that is generally prohibited.
While exploring outdoors, remember that removal of petrified wood or other natural and cultural artifacts found in the park is prohibited by law. However, petrified wood from private land outside the park boundaries is available for sale at gift shops inside and outside the park.
The temperatures at Petrified Forest National Park can range from above 100° F (38° C) to well below freezing, with infrequent snowstorms in winter and frequent violent thunderstorms in summer. Always check the forecast at Petrified Forest National Park at the Weather Channel or Petrified Forest National Park at National Weather Service before your visit and plan accordingly.
While Petrified Forest has much to offer, the rugged terrain and historic buildings can be challenging to visitors with disabilities. Details about accessibility specifics are available here and at visitor centers.
Although day-hiking is allowed, overnight camping and backpacking are not permitted at this time. However, check the park’s website for updates to this policy. Options for RV/tent camping exist outside the park. These include two privately-owned gift shops for overnight parking in their lots for fully self-contained campers, and private campgrounds throughout Navajo and Apache Counties, in and around Holbrook, Sun Valley, St. Johns, Joseph City, and other communities.
Nearby national park sites with campgrounds include Canyon de Chelly National Monument, El Morro National Monument, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park as well as National Forest Service campgrounds in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Coconino National Forest. However, check the sites for COVID-related closures. More information about reservations on public lands is available at recreation.gov.
Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health authorities in consultation with NPS Public Health Service officers, interpretive programming and guided hikes, and cultural demonstrations will not be available at this time. The Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark is temporarily closed. Other facilities, including the visitor centers, are open during park hours daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with limits on the number of people allowed inside at the same time. Before visiting Petrified Forest National Park, please check the park website for updates. Face masks are required on NPS-administered lands where physical distancing cannot be maintained and in all NPS buildings and facilities. Park operations vary based on local public health conditions. More updates about the overall NPS response to COVID-19, including safety information, are posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
Petrified Forest National Park— Mailing Address: 1 Park Road, #2217, Petrified Forest, AZ 86028. Phone: 928-524-6228. Website: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm