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  Petrified Forest
By: D. Piedmont

Located approximately 230 miles from Phoenix and 204 miles from Albuquerque is the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood. The Painted Desert, a multi-hued display of archeological sites and historic structures, displays over 225 million year of fossil evidence.

The Petrified Forest National Park has two entrances with the main park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 and Highway 180. The visitor�s center is located just off Interstate 40 (exit 311) at the North entrance.

Hiking at Petrified Forest National Park is one of the best ways to enjoy and experience the area. Trails range from one-third mile to nearly three miles in length. The trail-less Wilderness Area is also an option for either a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip. To stay overnight in the Wilderness Area you must obtain a free permit from either the Painted Desert Visitor Center, Painted Desert Inn, or Rainbow Forest Museum. Additional restrictions exist and please contact the park before your trip.

Pets are allowed on maintained trails but must be kept on leash. Pets are not permitted in Wilderness Areas or in the park buildings.

Group camping is limited to 8.

Horses are allowed in the Wilderness Area and no permit is required for day trips. Overnight camping requires the same free permit previously mentioned.


Painted Desert Rim Trail

Length: 1 mile round trip
Trailhead: Tawa Point and Kachina Point
This unpaved trail winds through the rim woodland, a place for chance encounters of many species of plants and animals and spectacular views of the Painted Desert.
Please do not harm animals or plants in the park.
Even though this trail does not have stairs, the waterbars and dirt-gravel surface may make this trail unsuitable for strollers.

Puerco Pueblo Trail

Length: 0.3 mile loop
Trailhead: Puerco Pueblo parking area
Walk amidst the remains of a hundred room pueblo, occupied by the ancestral Puebloan people between 1200 and 700 years ago. Petroglyphs are one of the mysteries left behind by these ancient people.
Do not climb on the boulders or walls. Please do not touch the petroglyphs.
This trail is paved and does not have stairs, making it suitable for strollers. It may also be negotiated in a wheelchair with assistance.

Blue Mesa Trail

Length: 1 mile loop, moderately strenuous
Trailhead: Blue Mesa sun shelter
Descending from the mesa, this alternately paved and gravel trail loops among badland hills of bluish bentonite clay and petrified wood. Plant fossils, including delicate ferns, have been found in the sedimentary layers of Blue Mesa.
Please leave petrified wood and other fossils for all to enjoy.
The top portion of this trail may be negotiated by strollers and wheelchairs with assistance. But where the trail begins to drop very steeply to its lower portion, strollers and wheelchairs should be turned around.

Crystal Forest Trail

Length: 0.75 mile loop
Trailhead: Crystal Forest parking area
Despite more than a century of collecting, beautiful crystals still hide in the colorful petrified logs at Crystal Forest.
Please leave them for others to enjoy. Report anyone removing petrified wood, or any other materials, from the park.
This paved trail may be negotiated with strollers, although there are a few steep hills. Wheelchairs may be used to access the shade shelter with assistance, but are not recommended on the loop.

Giant Logs Trail

Length: 0.4 mile loop
Location: Behind Rainbow Forest Museum
* Trail guide available inside Rainbow Forest Museum.
Giant Logs features some of the largest and most colorful logs in the park. "Old Faithful", at the top of the trail, is almost ten feet wide!
This paved trail has several sets of stairs and is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

*** The Long Logs and Agate House Trails can be combined for a total of 2.6 miles round trip.

Long Logs Trail

Length: 1.6 mile loop
Trailhead: Rainbow Forest Museum parking area
Long Logs is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the park. Explore this ancient log jam at the base of gray badlands.
Please leave petrified wood for others to enjoy. Report anyone removing petrified wood, or any other materials, from the park.
The first half-mile of this trail is paved and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. Strollers may be negotiated on the loop, but it is not recommended for wheelchairs due to its narrow width and very rough surface. Stairs up to the shade shelter can be avoided by using the Agate House trail to access the hilltop.

Agate House Trail

Length: 2 miles round trip
Trailhead: Rainbow Forest Museum parking area
Archeologists believe that this small pueblo was occupied for a short time about 700 years ago. Seasonal farmers or traders possibly built Agate House as a temporary home.
Please leave all archeological artifacts for all to enjoy. Do not sit on fragile walls.
The first half-mile of this trail is paved and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. Strollers may be negotiated out to Agate House, but it is not recommended for wheelchairs due to its narrow width and very rough surface.

Rules, Regulations, and Safety:

Removal of petrified wood or other natural and cultural artifacts found in the park
is prohibited by law.

  • Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park.
  • Limitations on pets, bicycles, motorized vehicles and firearms are not allowed.
  • No wood or charcoal fires are allowed. Please use fuel stoves.
  • Bury human waste.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trash behind.
  • Be aware that elevations average 5,800 feet.
  • Temperatures vary greatly from extreme heat to bitter cold.
  • Take all water necessary - one gallon per person per day is recommended during summer months
  • In developed hiking areas hike on designated trails only. Hiking off-trail can damage the fragile grassland environment and disturbs wildlife habitat.

Related Information:

Information on Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified wood - Wikipedia



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