Petrified Forest National Park, in eastern Arizona, is a haven for ancient trees that have been over time have been transformed into fossils as hard as stone. The most colorful forest of petrified wood, and one of the main draws, is known as the Painted Desert in Arizona, but the list of activities at this national park in Arizona includes horseback riding, hiking, camping, backpacking, geocaching, and gorgeous photography. Whatever activities you choose, the Petrified Forest Arizona is sure to provide an intriguing outdoors experience in this ancient forest.
In 1906, the Petrified Forest Arizona was declared a national monument in an effort to protect the ancient wood. Years later, in 1962, the forest joined the ranks of national parks, and in 2004, the borders of the park were extended and doubled the park’s size, making it a total of 218,533 acres. The Petrified Forest is considered one of the best illustrations of the later Triassic Period. This area once flowed with water and nourished a variety of flora and fauna, but over time, because of the weather, volcanic activity, and seismic movements, the large forests of this area were petrified. Today, the land is a desert filled with renamed forests, including the Rainbow Forest, the Crystal Forest, the Black Forest, and the most well known, the Painted Desert in Arizona. Most of these names are derived from the colors that occur from the mineral compounds that exist and are displayed in colorful arrays in each area.
Depending on your choice of activities, the Petrified Forest National Park can be explored in a variety of fashions, from a relaxing scenic getaway to an adventurous trip. Visitors are welcome to explore the ancient lands, from the Painted Desert in Arizona to the Crystal Forest, by strolling along the trails, hiking, and horseback riding. Overnight guests can backpack through the park and set up camp within the park at designated areas. (When planning, do remember that a backcountry camping permit is required for this.) In addition to simply enjoying the scenery, the Petrified Forest National Park offers a handful of tours that provide an insight into the history and importance of the various regions of the park.
Tourists can also visit the selection of museums and monuments, which are also featured on selected tours. To enter the Petrified Forest Arizona, visitors are required to pay a fee, which varies by mode of transportation; cars and other large vehicles are charged more than pedestrians or cyclists. Guests can also obtain an annual pass that will allow access for the pass holder and three guests at any federally operated recreational facility in the country.
Although removing any of the petrified wood from the park is illegal, this unfortunately happens in great numbers every year. Visitors are requested to purchase petrified wood offered at the gift shops as souvenirs, which has been collected from private lands. In this way, the Petrified Forest National Park will remain intact and preserved for generations to come.
Whether you trek the Painted Desert in Arizona or snap tons of spectacular photos or learn something new on one of the offered tours of the park, the Petrified Forest Arizona is one of the most intriguing parks in the United States and will capture your memories long after the trip is complete. If you want to add another scenic destination to your vacation, it’s worth exploring Saguaro National Park as well.