Petrified Forest National Park

Location: east of Holbrook, Arizona
Date: February 25, 2011

Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona is easily accessed from Interstate 40.  The park road can be driven only while the park is open.  The park's petrified trees date from the Late Triassic about 225 million years ago.

Petrified trees

From exit 311 on Interstate 40, the park road goes past the visitor center, Painted Desert Inn, and several overlooks of the Painted Desert, which is quite colorful.  From here the road goes south and passes several pullouts, many with overlooks and short trails.  These include Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, The Tepees, Blue Mesa, Agate Bridge, Jasper Forest, and Crystal Forest.  My favorite of these places was Blue Mesa where the road and short trails went along the top of the mesa, providing views of the badlands and grasslands below, as well as petrified trees.  At the southern end of the park are Long Logs, Agate House, and Giant Logs, where you can see some enormous petrified trees.

A petrified tree on a mesa

While trees do not grow in the park today, much of the park consists of flora and fauna characteristic of the deserts and grasslands of northeastern Arizona.  There is also over 13,000 years of human history in the park, with many archaeological sites.  

Old Faithful, the largest petrified tree

Camping is permitted only in the backcountry in the northern section of the park.


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