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Visiting Petrified Forest National Park: The Complete Guide for 2022

Post Summary: Visiting Petrified Forest National Park

A forest like no other. That is Petrified Forest National Park in a nut shell. This small park in eastern Arizona is home to one of the most unique forests in the National Park system. Unlike other forests, Petrified Forest’s trees are all dead. It’s most famous trees are millions of years old and have been turned to stone.

If you are planning a trip to Petrified Forest National Park and need some help planning your trip, this is our started guide for visiting Petrified Forest National Park. We often have detailed in-depth guides reached to Petrified Forest Park trip planning and will link to these where appropriate to make your trip planning as easy as possible.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with trip planning and would like a national park expert to help plan your trip, we offer a Custom National Park Itinerary Planning Service. Fill out a simple questionnaire and let us do the planning for you.

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The Quick Guide to Visiting Petrified Forest National Park

Map of Petrified Forest National Park

Map of Petrified Forest

Click on the Petrified Forest Map above to download the official brochure map. If you’d like a PDF copy of this Petrified Forest Map click here.

Petrified Forest National Park Basics

Region: Intermountain / Southwest / West Coast

State: State of Arizona

Park Size: 221,391 acres (345.92 sq miles) (895.94 sq km)

Location: Navajo and Apache Counties

Closest Cities: Holbrook, Arizona

Busy Season: May to July

Visitation: 643,588 (in 2019)

Funniest 1-Star Review:It’s basically a desert with some dead trees.

Official Website: NPS.gov

How much does Petrified Forest National Park Cost?

Petrified Forest National Park costs the following:

  • 7-day Passenger Vehicle Pass – $25
  • 7-day Motorcycle Pass – $20
  • 7-day Individual Pass – $15

An annual Petrified Forest National Park Pass costs $45 but it is not recommended you buy this pass. For an extra $35 you can get an American the Beautiful Pass. This $80 pass offers free admission to all 116 fee-charging National Park Units.

When is Petrified Forest National Park Open?

Petrified Forest National Park is open year-round.

Are dogs allowed in Petrified Forest National Park?

Yes, Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most dog-friendly National Parks. Dogs are welcome on most of the park’s trails and carriage roads. Please review the Petrified Forest Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Petrified Forest.

Where are Petrified Forest National Park’s visitor centers?

Painted Desert Visitor Center – Open Year Around

Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark – Open Year Around

Rainbow Forest Museum – Open Year Around

Land Acknowledgments for Petrified Forest National Park

The National Park known as Petrified Forest National Park sits on Hopi, Zuni (territory), Pueblos, and Western Apache land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of the current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the Indigenous nations boundaries, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

When was Petrified Forest National Park created?

Petrified Forest National Park was first described by European visitors in the 19th century but the park has a rich historical history. There are more than 1,200 archeological sites dating back about 12,000 years ago.

As the United States expanded and access to the region increased and tourism and commercial started to develop. The area was attracting attention for both its archeological and geological history. The Arizona Territorial Legislature wanted to preserve the region so they pushed for national park status in 1895. The effort failed but 11 years later, President Theodore Roosevelt created Petrified Forest National Monument as the second national monument.

In 1962, Petrified Forest National Monument became Petrified Forest National Park. The park was expanded in 2004.

The purpose of Petrified Forest National Park is to preserve and protect globally significant fossils, including petrified wood, nationally significant prehistoric and historic resources, as well as scenic values, in order to foster scientific research, public understanding, and enjoyment.

Petrified Forest National Park Foundation Document

Fun Facts about Petrified Forest National Park

  • Petrified Forest is the ONLY National Park where the whole park closes at night.
  • Petrified Forest National Park was the 2nd Monument.
  • Petrified Forest is consider to be a Theodore Roosevelt National Park as he protected it as a National Monument.
  • The park protects one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world.
  • The oldest fossils in the park are over 225 million years old.
  • The highest point in Petrified Forest National Park is Pilot Rock which is 6,234 feet (1,900 m) above sea level.
  • The lowest point in Petrified Forest National Park is BNSF Railway which is 5,200 feet (1,600 m) above sea level.
  • Petrified Forest by the numbers
    • 28.6 miles of paved roads
    • 89.4 miles of hiking trails
    • 1,200 archeological sites
  • Newspaper Rock has more than 650 individual petroglyphs.
  • Animals of Petrified Forest
    • 30+ species of mammals
    • 258 species of bird
    • 18 species of repitles
    • 7 species of amphibians
  • Petrified Fores is the only national park to contain part of Route 66.
  • Despite being a desert, most of the park is shortgrass praire.
  • There are nine sites in the park listed on the National Register of Historic Places
    • Painted Desert Visitor Center
    • Painted Desert Inn
    • Agate House Pueblo
    • Painted Desert Petroglyphs and Ruins Archeological District
    • Puerco Ruins and Petroglyphs
    • Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Archeological District
    • Twin Buttes Archeological District
    • 35th Parallel Route
    • Flattops Site.

How to Get to Petrified Forest National Park

Getting to Petrified Forest National Park depends on where you live and how much time you have for your visit. If you live within 6-8 hours of Petrified Forest National Park, you are better off driving to the park. Outside of the 6-8 hour radius, flying may be your better option time-wise.

I recommend weighing the time you have versus the costs before deciding to fly vs. driving.

Where is Petrified Forest National Park Located?

Petrified Forest National Park is located in eastern Arizona near I-40.

What kind of rental car do you need for a visit Petrified Forest National Park?

All of Petrifed Forest’s roads are paved so you and go with any car that will fit your travelling group comfortably.

I book most of my rental cars through RentalCars.com. They have a great selection of rental cars from most major agencies and the best prices – check prices here.

How Much Time Should I Spend Visiting Petrified Forest National Park?

One Day in Petrfied Forest National Park

Most visitors will only spend one day in PetrifiedForest National Park. Its a small park with a handful of hiking trails. Unless you want to do some desert backpacking or are a slow hiker who’d like to take some extra time on the trails. One day will let you hit the highlights of the park and get a full experience.

Multiple Days in Petrified Forest National Park

A muli-day visit to Petrified Forest is usually reserved for backpackers who heading out into the Painted Desert. They usually head for some of the more unique areas like the Black Forest and Onyx Bridge, Pilot Rock, and Devils Playground. These are dry backpacking trips where you’ll be carrying all your water. So do your research and be prepared.

Where to stamp your National Parks Passport Book in Petrified Forest National Park?

Looking for a cheap National Park souvenir? The National Park Passport Books is one of the best and cheapest souvenirs.

>>> Click here to learn more about the National Park Passport Book Program.

>>> Click here to buy.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT stamp your government-issued passport.

There are 14 official stamps in Petrified Forest along with a handful of bonus stamps in the park.

  • Historic Route 66 – Holbrook, AZ
  • Historic Route 66 – Petrified Forest National Park
  • Painted Desert Inn
  • Petrified Forest National Park – Petrified Forest
  • Petrified Forest National Park – Petrified Forest, AZ
  • Petrified Forest National Park – The Painted Desert
  • Petrified Forest NP – Petrified Forest, AZ
  • Petrified Forest NP – The Painted Desert
  • The Painted Desert Inn

Petrified Forest National Park Passport Stamp Locations

Here are all the locations where you can find the Petrified Forest National Park Passport Stamp.

  • Holbrook Historic Courthouse/Museum
  • Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center
  • Painted Desert Visitor Center
  • Rainbow Forest Museum
Holbrook Historic Courthouse/Museum

Holbrook Historic Courthouse/Museum is located at 100 E. Arizona St., Holbrook, AZ 86025. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Holbrook Historic Courthouse/Museum
Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center

Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center is located at the Painted Desert. It is open daily. Stamps located here:

Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center
Painted Desert Visitor Center

Painted Desert Visitor Center is located at 1 Park Rd, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028. It is open daily. Stamps located here:

Painted Desert Inn Visitor Center
Rainbow Forest Museum

Rainbow Forest Museum is located at 6618 Petrified Forest Rd, Holbrook, AZ 86025. It is open daily. Stamps located here:

National Park Obsessed’s Detailed Guides to Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park Lodging

Itineraries for Petrified Forest National Park

Most Dog Friendly National Parks

Frequently Asked Questions about Petrified Forest National Park

Is Petrified Forest National Park worth visiting?

Yes and not just because it has National Park in its name. The park is a unique desert park with an interesting selection of things to do. The park has amazing landscapes with some nice shorter hiking options. There are petroglyphs and is a stop along Route 66.

Can you enter Petrified Forest National Park?

Yes, you can enter Petrified Forest National Park between 8 and 5 pm. There are two entrances to the park. The North Entrance is along Interstate 40 and the South Entrance is located on Highway 180.

What is the best time to visit Petrified Forest National Park?

Petrified Forest National Park is a desert park so it is best to visit sometime other than the summer. Pretty much any time from November to April is a great time to visit. The temperatures will be milder and will make your visit much more enjoyable.

How long does it take to visit Petrified Forest National Park?

I hate to say this but you can see the majority of Petrified Forest National Park in a day. You could stretch it to two days if you are a slower hike. If you are looking to go backpacking, there are opportunities to spend more time and see a few different places that are off the beaten path.

How many days do you need for petrified National Park?

Petrified Forest National Park is a smaller national park. There is one road and a handful of trails so you really only need one day (maybe two max).

What happens if you take a rock from the Petrified Forest?

It is illegal to remove rocks or petrified wood from Petrified Forest National Park. It is a monetary fine to remove petrified wood and you don’t get to keep the wood after paying your fine. Plus there might be a curse. When you walk through the Crystal Forest, take a look at all the petrified wood. Now imagine what the area would look like if someone hadn’t removed EIGHT TRAIN CARS of petrified wood from the area. The area would look startlingly different.

Please leave all petrified wood in place. If you wish to get some petrified wood, there is are plenty in the park’s gift shop you can buy (and get to keep). These pieces are acquired outside the park on private property.

Is the Painted Desert the same as the Petrified Forest?

Sort of. The Painted Desert is associated with Petrified Forest because the most well-known areas of the Painted Desert are located within the National Park. So they are often liked together. But the Painted Desert is larger than just the park. It runs from the east end of Grand Canyon National Park to Petrified Forest National Park.

Do you need a reservation for Petrified Forest National Park?

At the time of writing (December 29, 2021), Petrified Forest National Park does not require a reservation.

Where is the best place to see the Painted Desert?

The best view of the Painted Desert is at the Painted Desert Inn. The Inn was well placed to take in the amazingness of the Painted Desert.

Final Thoughts on Petrified Forest National Park

Do you have any questions about Petrified Forest National Park or need help planning your National Park trips. Let me know in the comments or join me in my National Park Trip Planning Community!

Pin for Later: Visiting Petrified Forest National Park: The Complete Guide

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