You can find Petrified wood in many places. But to
Petrified Forest National Park visitor centre
If you have not noticed petrified wood lying on the streets in nearby towns or the numerous ‘rock shops’ along the way to the national park, your first petrified stumps lie immediately at the national park entry sign.
Your first stop inside the park is the visitor centre. Numerous info panels present lots of information on the history and the geology of the area.
Giant and Long Log walks
The best of the short walks start right near the visitor centre.
The Giant Logs walk is a 0.4mi/0.6 km loop right behind the visitor centre. Its most impressive feature is the ‘Old Faithful’, a massive log of almost 10 feet / 3 meters across at the base.
To get to the Long Logs walk, you cross the bridge over the river next to the gift shop. The 1.6mi / 2.5 km loop is the ‘site of a Triassic log jam’, an area covered in especially long petrified tree trunks.
Crystal Forest walk
After you have seen all there is around the visitor centre, it is time to jump in the car. Our next stop is the Crystal Forest walk. Along the 0.75mi/1.2 km loop we explore the scattering of colourful stumps and more fine examples of entire massive petrified logs.
Jasper Forest and Agate Bridge
The next two short stops are only a bit further up the road where we will find the Jasper Forest loop provides a panoramic view over many scattered petrified stumps. Across the road, Agate Bridge is a 110 ft / 34 m long petrified log spanning a gully. An interesting ‘feature’ is the ugly block of concrete supporting the log. Apparently, this is an 1917 effort to prevent the log bridge from collapsing – something that would not be done today.
For a bit of a change, drive the 3.5 mi / 5.6 km Blue Mesa loop drive. While you can still see many petrified logs here, the main feature here are the coloured layers of ancient mud, eroded into some spectacular and bizarre formations.
Newspaper Rock and Puerco Pueblo
Our next two stops provide lessons about more recent human history. Fist at Newspaper Rock, you look down at a rock carved with over 600 petroglyphs, some as old as 2000 years. Then along the 0.3 mi /0.5 km long loop walk at Puerco Pueblo, you will see excavations of ancient Puebloan homes, as well as some of the fine rock carvings.
Route 66 Alignment
Near where the park road crosses Interstate 40, a rusty 1932 Studebaker marks where Historic Route 66 once cut through the Petrified Forest National Park.
Painted Desert and the historical Inn
Several lookouts over the Painted Desert, an area of colourful layered hills, are the last few points of interest along the park scenic drive. A lookout right next to historic Painted Desert Inn offers some of the best views.
These days a museum, the Painted Desert Inn was built in the
Practical information for visiting Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park does not have any campsites. However, two privately owned gift shops at the junction of the park road and Highway 180 allow overnight parking and camping in their parking lots. For more details, visit ‘Camping’ in the planning section of the park website.