The day after our visit to Saguaro National Park, we headed just four hours north to Petrified Forest National Park! While the Grand Canyon is by far the most well known National Park in Arizona (and the whole country), this park is severely underrated. While you can’t argue with the breathtaking and inspiring beauty of the vast Grand Canyon, my experience there also made me feel small and question our existence. Petrified Forest, on the other hand, put a spotlight on the magic of science and nature and made me feel connection.
When you think of a desert, it’s easy to think of a barren, monotonous wasteland. But no more – I’ll forever think of a kaleidoscope of colors thanks to this stunning park.
It’s an easy park to visit and most trails are extremely accessible. The main road runs North/South through the park in less than 30 miles. The developed trails are all 2 miles or less, and most are less than 1 mile – which makes it extremely reasonable to explore this park in one day.
Through the various trails, we saw the namesake petrified wood and logs, the aptly named Painted Desert (pretty sure Pocahontas found her inspiration for her bop, Colors of the Wind, here), various ruins and petroglyphs, and the most spectacular badlands hills. We ended our visit at the Museum which is worth some time to read the history and oogling of polished and preserved perfect pieces of the petrified wood!
- DON’T BE A DICK – Not only should you leave no trace, it is ILLEGAL to take anything from National Parks, which includes rocks and petrified wood. I get it; as a child, I collected rocks and these sure are some gorgeous ones… but resist the temptation. It’s stealing!
- This park is SO dog friendly! Luca loved it. They recently even added a BARK Ranger Program.
- The Giant Logs Trail, behind the visitor center and museum, is the most popular (and includes Old Faithful, which is the largest intact piece). Definitely don’t skip it, but Long Logs trail has the largest concentration of petrified logs and is a lot less busy.