Visiting Petrified Forest National Park: The Complete Guide for 2024

Post Summary: Visiting Petrified Forest National Park

A forest like no other. That is Petrified Forest National Park in a nutshell. 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. Its 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.

The Quick Guide to Visiting Petrified Forest National Park

Map of Petrified Forest National Park

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:

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.

Related Articles: Land Acknowledgments for US National Park

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 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.

Driving to Petrified Forest National Park

Distance from Major Cities

CityMileageKilometersDrive Time
Anchorage, AK3,492 mi5,619 km58 hours
Atlanta, GA1,618 mi2,603 km23 hours
Boston, MA2,453 mi3,947 km36 hours
Charlotte, NC1,847 mi2,972 km27 hours
Chicago, IL1,556 mi2,504 km22.5 hours
Columbus, OH1,679 mi2,702 km24 hours
Denver, CO667 mi1,073 km9.5 hours
Detroit, MI1,792 mi2,883 km26 hours
Houston, TX1,102 mi1,773 km16 hours
Las Vegas, NV366 mi589 km5.25 hours
Los Angeles, CA577 mi928 km8.5 hours
Miami, FL2,182 mi3,511 km31 hours
Minneapolis, MN1,442 mi2,320 km21.25 hours
Nashville, TN1,438 mi2,314 km20.5 hours
New Orleans, LA1,372 mi2,208 km20 hours
New York City, NY2,212 mi3,559 km32 hours
Philadelphia, PA2,147 mi3,455 km31 hours
Phoenix, AZ203 mi326 km3.25 hours
Salt Lake City, UT539 mi867 km8.5 hours
San Francisco, CA877 mi1,411 km13 hours
Seattle, WA1,367 mi2,199 km20.75 hours
Washington, D.C.2,103 mi3,384 km30 hours

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

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

I book most of my rental cars through 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. It is 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 multi-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?

The National Park Passport Book is the BEST and cheapest National Park souvenir. Every National Park Obsessed person should have one of these books.

If you are new to the National Parks, you can learn more about the National Parks Passport program here or jump right in by ordering the ever-popular Classic National Parks Passport or get the National Park Obsessed’s National Park Passport & Journal

IMPORTANT: Do NOT stamp your government-issued passport.

There are six official Stamps for Petrified Forest National Park. Here is the list of National Park Passport Stamps you can get in Petrified Forest National Park:

  • Historic Route 66
  • Painted Desert Inn
  • Petrified Forest
  • Petrified Forest, AZ
  • The Painted Desert
  • The Painted Desert Inn At Petrified Forest National Park AZ

Bonus Stamps

  • Historic Courthouse
  • Historic Route 66 Holbrook Arizona Visitor’s Center
  • Junior Ranger
  • Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark
  • Petrified Forest National Park In The Painted Desert
  • Rainbow Forest Museum

Petrified Forest National Park Passport Stamp Locations

Here are all the locations to find the Petrified Forest National Park Passport Stamps.

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

Recommend Reading for Petrified Forest National Park

Stories from Petrified Forest National Park National Park

Best Petrified Forest National Park Guide Books

Petrified Forest National Park Gift Ideas

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

Petrified Forest National Park Lodging

Itineraries for Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park Activity Guides

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

Hi, I'm Jennifer!

Welcome to the wonderful world of National Parks. I'm here to help you plan your NEXT amazing adventure through the United States National Parks and beyond. I want the national parks to be accessible to all.

I live in Tennessee, and when I'm home, you can find me hiking in the Smokies and the Cumberland Plateau.

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