Know Before You Go Shaka Guide's Petrified Forest National Park Tour
Petrified Forest National Park is such a rewarding stop on an Arizona or American Southwest road trip. In one park, you’ll find unusual but stunning landscapes, archaeological sites from the Ancestral Puebloans, and fossil discoveries from the Triassic Period. And of course, there’s thousands of petrified logs scattered across the desert and prairie. Even better, you can see much of the park in just half a day! Before you visit, we have some advice to keep in mind.
- The tour begins in the town of Holbrook, AZ.
- The park has two entrances connected north to south by a 28-mile scenic drive. The speed limit ranges from 15 to 45 miles per hour. Without stops, this drive takes approximately 45 minutes.
- The park is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily.
- Make sure you have the correct time before you arrive. Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time, but the nearby Navajo Reservation does.
- Since this is a relatively short tour, you don’t have to start first thing in the morning. If you wait to start later, you may catch some magic hour sunlight before closing time depending on the time of year.
- Admission to Petrified Forest National Park is $25 per vehicle, which is valid for seven days. Currently, only debit and credit cards are accepted.
- There is one restaurant in the park, the Painted Desert Diner, located on the north entrance of the park at the Painted Desert Visitor Center. The only other place to find snacks is at the south entrance gift shop. If you’d prefer to bring something else to eat, then bring a cooler and eat at one of the park’s three picnic areas.
- There is one gas station in the park, located at the Painted Desert Visitor Center on the north end of the park. It’s cheaper to buy gas outside the park.
- Removing petrified wood from the park is strictly prohibited.
- If you have the time, add a stop to the town of Winslow to your road trip, less than an hour from Petrified Forest. You can find some of the town’s highlights in the app, including a stunning railroad hotel and restaurant and a tribute to the Eagles, who referenced Winslow in their hit “Take it Easy.”
What to Expect/ FAQ’s
To Spend 3-4 Hours Exploring
Depending on your interests, it’s easy to see the highlights of Petrified Forest National Park in half a day or less. A full day, including hiking the majority of the trails, would be a very comprehensive trip to the park.
A tour of Petrified Forest National Park includes stories about geology, paleontology, native cultures, mythology, travel to the West, and more. You’ll end the tour with a deeper understanding of the land and the people who have left their mark here.
It’s More Than just Petrified Wood
Petrified Forest National Park features so much more than old rocks. Panoramic views of the Painted Desert, Route 66 history, ancient pueblos and petroglyphs, and alien-looking badlands are all part of the tour. In fact, starting at the north end of the park, you may wonder if you’re in the right place. The petrified wood deposits are all in the southern half of the park.
No Shade and Lots of Wind
Despite the name, there are very few trees in the park and very little shade. This means an open view and a high chance of some pretty gusty wind. Come prepared with sunscreen and a hat for the sun and a windbreaker jacket to combat the wind if it’s chilly.
This tour is easy on the wallet, with only a $25 per vehicle admission to the park. There are a few additional expenses that are optional.
- Budget $10-15 per person at the Painted Desert Diner including an entree, side and drink. A meal in the nearby town of Holbrook should run about the same price.
- Souvenirs such as decorative petrified wood and hand-made crafts from local tribes can run a little pricey.
Here’s our packing list for the tour.
- Sneakers or hiking boots
- Hiking clothes (bring layers!)
- Windbreaker jacket
- Canteen/ refillable water bottle
- Phone charger and mount
- Credit card
Leave No Trace
When you're in the park, please remember the saying "leave no trace." This means to leave the park in the exact condition you found it. Our beautiful National Parks are delicate so let's work together to preserve them for generations to come!
We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For more information and to check out the tour, be sure to check out the accompanying itinerary.