Top Things to do in Petrified Forest National Park
1. Explore the Painted Desert
The Painted Desert, known for its vibrant and colorful rock formations, is a must-see in Petrified Forest National Park. Take a scenic drive through the park to witness the stunning panoramic views of the desert landscape. Don’t miss the chance to hike the various trails that lead you through the multicolored badlands, revealing the geological wonders of the region.
2. Visit the Rainbow Forest Museum
The Rainbow Forest Museum serves as the park’s primary visitor center and offers a wealth of information about the geological, natural, and cultural history of the area. Inside the museum, you can explore fascinating exhibits, view the impressive collection of petrified wood, and learn about the ancient plants and animals that once thrived in this prehistoric landscape.
3. Take a Walk along the Blue Mesa Trail
The Blue Mesa Trail is a 1-mile loop that takes you through a unique landscape of blue and purple layered hills made of bentonite clay. The trail offers breathtaking views of the colorful formations and allows you to explore the area up close. Remember to bring your camera along to capture the mesmerizing beauty of this trail.
4. Discover the Historic Route 66
Petrified Forest National Park is also home to a section of the iconic Historic Route 66. Take a scenic drive along this legendary road and explore the remnants of old trading posts, service stations, and motels that once thrived along this famous highway. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the Route 66 sign to capture a piece of American history.
5. Hike the Petrified Forest Loop Trail
If you want to experience the park’s namesake up close, the Petrified Forest Loop Trail is a must-visit. This 3-mile loop trail takes you through an otherworldly landscape adorned with countless petrified logs, some of which are over 200 million years old. Marvel at the stunning colors and textures of the petrified wood as you walk along this unique trail.
6. Attend a Ranger Program
The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs that provide valuable insights into the natural and cultural history of Petrified Forest National Park. From guided hikes to educational talks and stargazing events, there’s something for everyone. These programs offer a unique opportunity to learn from knowledgeable park rangers and enhance your overall park experience.
7. Enjoy a Scenic Drive on the Petrified Forest Road
A scenic drive on the 28-mile Petrified Forest Road is one of the best ways to explore the park’s diverse landscape. Along the way, you’ll encounter breathtaking vistas, ancient petroglyphs, and numerous points of interest. Take your time and make frequent stops to fully appreciate the stunning beauty of this national park.
8. Discover the Agate Bridge
The Agate Bridge is a unique petrified log that spans a natural wash. This fascinating geological formation is easily accessible via a short trail and provides a chance to witness the incredible preservation of ancient trees that turned to stone over time. As you stand beneath the Agate Bridge, marvel at the wonders of nature and the power of geological processes.
9. Wildlife Watching
Petrified Forest National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including pronghorn antelopes, mule deer, coyotes, and numerous bird species. Bring your binoculars and keep an eye out for these amazing creatures along the park’s hiking trails and scenic drives. Remember to maintain a safe distance and respect their natural habitats.
10. Capture Mesmerizing Sunsets
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the breathtaking sunsets over the ancient landscape of Petrified Forest National Park. Find a vantage point, set up your camera, and prepare to capture the mesmerizing colors as the sun dips below the horizon. The park offers plenty of scenic spots to enjoy this magical moment.
Petrified Forest National Park is a unique destination that offers a multitude of experiences for nature lovers, history buffs, and adventure seekers. From exploring the vibrant Painted Desert to marveling at ancient petrified wood, the park’s diverse attractions provide a glimpse into the Earth’s history and the wonders of the natural world. Whether you hike the trails, attend ranger programs, or simply enjoy a scenic drive through the park, Petrified Forest National Park is bound to leave a lasting impression on every visitor.