Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

  US National Parks

VISIT Petrified Forest National Park:

The Petrified Forest National Park was once a swampy forest, but is now a scrubland desert with quartz-wrapped logs from 225 million years ago.

Visiting Petrified Forest National Park is like taking a step back in time, you won’t believe the stunning natural beauty that awaits at this park. You will be treated to the uniquely gorgeous hill of Painted Desert and the fascinating petrified trees that date back hundreds of millions of years. Believe it or not, these trees fell and became petrified or mineralized before the dinosaurs roamed the earth!

What Is Petrified Wood?

One of the things that makes Petrified Forest National Park truly unique is that these petrified trees are 225 million years old. This area, that now encompasses the National Park, was part of the massive supercontinent of Pangea. After these massive trees fell they were buried in a river channel.

So how do trees become petrified? Well, the river water mineralizes slowly from crystal quartz. After tectonic movement nearly 60 million years ago, the petrified trees were unearthed. Take a close look at the trees and you will notice beautifully colorful quartz crystals within.

It’s important that visitors to the park do not disturb the petrified wood. Do not try to take petrified wood from the park, it’s illegal! If you want to take some home with you after visiting the National Park check out the local wood shops in Holbrook. This petrified wood is taken from private land and is therefore legal to purchase.

Places to Stay When Visiting Petrified Forest

There are no campgrounds or lodging inside the park. In fact, you must be out of the park by 5pm if you don’t have a backcountry camping permit.

We think Holbrook, NM is the best spot to spend the night, but Winslow is a decent option as well. If you didn’t want to spend the night here, you can always visit the park, then go farther west to Flagstaff, which has much more hotels, Airbnbs, and restaurants. Here are some distances from nearby cities to the main visitor center in the park:

  • Chambers, AZ (23 miles)
  • Holbrook, AZ (26 miles)
  • Houck, AZ (37 miles)
  • St Johns, AZ (67 miles)
  • Flagstaff, AZ (116 miles)

Park Details

Petrified Forest National Park was established on December 8, 1906, and has a total area of 221,416 acres (346 square miles, or 896 square kilometers).

Address 1 Park Road, Petrified Forest, AZ, 86028
HoursPark hours are 8am to 5pm, daily. You must leave the park by 5pm.
Entrance Fee$25 per vehicle; Valid for 7 days
Learn MoreOfficial Website

When to Visit: Weather vs. Peak Visitation

Petrified Forest National Park is the 107th most visited park in the country.

We crunched 30 years of historical weather and/or park service data to find the best months to visit Petrified Forest National Park. We looked for the optimal temperatures, the least amount of snow and rain, and stayed away from peak visitation months if we could help it. All this data then helped us paint a picture as to what the absolute best time to visit Petrified Forest National Park is.

Our data shows the best months to visit Petrified Forest National Park are October, April, May & June.

Park Visits24,61822,80758,09937,64463,18579,10674,00356,11054,27959,26214,09827,615
Avg Temp495362697888918983725949
Max Temp616674818996989590827263
Avg Temp293033364553636253423329
Min Temp202124273242545541302318
Temperature values in °F; Precipitation in Inches

Petrified Forest National Park Road Trips

Many family vacations consist of stringing one or more national parks together during a week-long trip. Creating these types of trips is our specialty! Here are the road trips we've created where Petrified Forest National Park is visited.

Trip NameTrip MilesTrip Days
Route 66 National Park Road Trip2,30013
Organ Pipe, Saguaro, Gila, Petrified Forest to Sedona9058

Other Nearby National Park Sites

From national monuments, to historic sites to seashores and more, here are the other parks closest to Petrified Forest National Park.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site46 mi
Canyon De Chelly National Monument76 mi
El Morro National Monument82 mi
Wupatki National Monument95 mi
Walnut Canyon National Monument96 mi
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument98 mi
El Malpais National Monument100 mi
Navajo National Monument117 mi
Montezuma Castle National Monument120 mi
Chaco Culture National Historical Park123 mi

Nearby Campsites & RV Parks

If you are looking to pitch a tent or park an RV at a campsite near Petrified Forest National Park, here is a list of the closest campsites in the surrounding area. They all have slightly different amenitites, so its best to check them all out instead of just chosing the first on the list.

None found.

Nearest Ski Resorts

For those of you who are the diehard outdoors type, visiting a national park on a ski trip can be quite the adventure. Here are the ski resorts within 100 miles of Petrified Forest National Park:

NameLocationSummitDifficulty ScoreDistance
Sunrise ParkGreer, AZ11,100 ft43%75 mi

Nearest Airports

When visiting a National park, many people are faced with either a very long drive across country, or a much shorter flight. For those of you looking to fly into Petrified Forest National Park, we've listed the closest airports in the area.

Large Airports

A large airport has scheduled major airline service with millions of passengers per year. This type of airport always accepts international flights. Here are the closest large airports to Petrified Forest National Park.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International AirportPHXPhoenix, AZ170 mi
Lake Havasu City International AirportLHSLake Havasu City, AZ254 mi
Harry Reid International AirportLASLas Vegas, NV308 mi
Salt Lake City International AirportSLCSalt Lake City, UT411 mi
Denver International AirportDENDenver, CO433 mi
Medium Airports

A medium-sized airport has scheduled regional airline service. This type of airport may or may not accept international flights. Here are the closest medium-sized airports to Petrified Forest National Park.

Flagstaff Pulliam International AirportFLGFlagstaff, AZ105 mi
Grand Canyon National Park AirportGCNGrand Canyon - Tusayan, AZ144 mi
Prescott International Airport - Ernest A. Love FieldPRCPrescott, AZ151 mi
Phoenix–Mesa Gateway AirportAZAMesa, AZ162 mi
Albuquerque International SunportABQAlbuquerque, NM181 mi
Tuscon International AirportTUSTuscon, AZ215 mi
Sierra Vista Municipal Airport / Libby Army Air FieldFHUFort Huachuca / Sierra Vista, AZ244 mi

Credits: Campground data provided by Map shapes from CartographyVectors. Weather data from NOAA. Airport data from Images from Unsplash, Flickr and Parks&Trips. All data has also been updated and augmented by Parks&Trips.

Author Image
Chris Cagle

I love traveling the United States. I hunt down fantastic places to visit in the summer and great slopes to ski down in the winter. The first national park I ever visited was the Smokies, but since then, I've been to dozens. However, my favorite by far has been Zion.