Thinking that there was once a forest in Arizona is incredible. The Petrified Forest may be one of the smallest National Parks in the USA, but it is filled with incredible history. If you haven’t visited before, I hope this post inspires you to add it to your bucket list and visit. Below is my list of the coolest things to do in the park. I hope you enjoy!
Painted Desert Visitor Center
Start your day beginning at the visitor center to see petrified wood artifacts along with getting some more information about the park. There are restrooms, information center and a cafe at the main entrance.
See Historic Route 66
The Petrified Forest National Park is the only park in the USA to have a part of the original Route 66 within it. As you’re driving, make sure and look for the run down telephone poles because they actually mark the old roadbed of Route 66 within the park.
Its hard to believe that there use to be over 100 rooms at this pueblo site along with a large plaza in the middle. These pueblo’s once housed a large community until it was abandoned due to climate change and the people had to relocate. The petroglyphs and remains of the structures tell the story of the people who once lived here.
Visit Newspaper Rock and see the Petroglyphs
There is a place to pull off the main road that will take you to a lookout to see Newspaper Rock. The sides of this rock have over 650 petroglyphs covering some of the rock faces, and it is believed that those who lived in Puerco Pueblo were some of the first artists. There are binoculars there to use for free, so do not go off of the path to see them up close! I got this picture of mine holding my phone camera to the binoculars to get a closer shot of them, hence why the lighting and angle is awkward.
The Rim Trail
This trail is where you will be the bright reds and pink around the desert. Depending on when you visit, this is where you will be able to see all types of plants and even wildlife, so be on the lookout to see when the flowers will bloom or plan your trip accordingly!
This park is home to Route 66 geocaching sites which is basically a real world treasure hunt! The park itself has placed these for visitors interested in finding the cache! Make sure and leave them exactly how you found them for the next person to find it.
Hike/Drive the Blue Mesa Trail
This is a paved 1 mile trail that will take you to see petrified wood as well as the blue/grey clay structures. The beginning is steep to the bottom, but it pays off when you’re surrounded by the beautiful hills all around you. If you aren’t wanting to hike it or if you are on a time crunch, driving it is just as cool!
There is a trail that will take you around to see the Crystal Forest. When these trees have petrified, they essentially turned into quartz with some having crystals on them too. The reason these trees have crystalized into the colors that they have is due to impurities like iron, manganese, copper and carbon which cause the crystal to turn different colors.
Remember to not touch or pick up any of the petrified wood in the park! If you are interested in collecting some of you own, click here to read a post about where you can find it yourself that is just outside of the park at the DoBell Ranch.
Painted Desert Inn
The Inn was originally built in 1920 and it was made entirely of petrified wood. Although the Inn no longer has options for people to stay overnight, it has since turned into a museum filled with artifacts. There are even special classes like beading and silversmith held by the Cultural Demonstrator Program throughout the year.
These are just 9 of many things that you can do inside of Petrified Forest National Park. When you visit, let me know what your favorite part of visiting the park was! If you’re interested in picking up your own Petrified Wood legally, click here and read my post on DoBell Ranch!
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