Petrified Forest is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. The park is located in northeast Arizona and features one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood. Also included in the park's 93,533 acres are the multi-hued badlands of the Painted Desert, archeological sites and displays of 225 million year old fossils.
Park activities include the park film, museums, sightseeing, photography, walking, hiking and wilderness backpacking. A variety of ranger programs are given year round with an increased number during the summer. A program schedule is displayed at visitor contact areas.
Note: The removal of petrified wood or other features of the park is prohibited by law. Gift shops sell petrified wood that comes from private land, outside the park. No petrified wood is removed legally from the park.
Driving non-stop, through the park, takes 45 minutes. The average length of stay is 2 hours but remaining all day is also common. The park is locked at night and visitors must be in their cars and driving towards an exit at closing time.
With advanced notice the park has several programs for school groups. Call for additional information.
Eight overlooks along the rim give sweeping views of portions of the Painted Desert. Painted Desert Inn Museum at Kachina Point was built in the 1920's and was rebuilt by Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930's. In 1987, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Access to the Painted Desert Wilderness is behind the inn; wilderness camping begins beyond the washes.
Chinde Point picnic area has water, and restrooms in warmer months. The park road winds through 6 miles of high desert short grass prairie and crosses over Interstate 40, the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, and the Puerco Indian Ruins.
Puerco Pueblo is a silent testimony to human life here before the 1400's. A few rooms are excavated and partially restored. An overlook permits views of Newspaper Rock, a huge sandstone block covered petroglyphs.
The Tepees are badlands erosional formations colored by iron, manganese, and other minerals. A 3 mile spur road climbs Blue Mesa, where pedestal logs abound. The hard logs act as capstones to soft clays beneath. Eventually the pedestal erodes, the log falls, and the cycle begins anew.
The Jasper Forest overlook shows the area's topography, with petrified logs strewn below. Logs with root systems show that some of the trees grew nearby. Fossil destruction in the Crystal Forest area by souvenir hunters and gem collectors prompted Arizona Territory citizens to petition Congress to preserve the petrified wood sites. Cracks and hollows in logs here once held beautiful clear quartz and amethyst crystals. The Flattops are massive remnants of a once continuous layer of sandstone capping parts of this area. The remaining capstone protects layered deposits long eroded from other parts of the park. The Long Logs and Agate House trail explore part of the Rainbow Forest. Iron, manganese, carbon, and other minerals lend bright colors to the petrified wood. Agate House is a partially restored pueblo.
The trail through Giant Logs behind the Rainbow Forest Museum follows up and down the slopes. The fence serves as a constant reminder that the petrified wood and all natural and historic objects in the park are preserved and protected by law.
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