Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

The Ultimate Petrified Forest National Park Travel Guide


Petrified Forest National Park is a truly underrated and unexpected gem within the National Park Service.

With the colorful Painted Desert, eroded and desolate badlands, and of course the peculiar petrified wood, you’ll wonder if you’re even on the same planet as the Grand Canyon. Don’t skip Petrified Forest on a trip to Arizona!

Petrified Forest National Monument map: A detailed guide showcasing the park's trails, landmarks, and attractions.

About the Park

Petrified Forest National Park is located right off I-40 and along the original Route 66 in northeast Arizona, between Flagstaff and the border with New Mexico.

Unlike most national parks, Petrified Forest closes at night. Hours of operation are 8 am-5 pm daily except for December 25 and November 25, when the park is closed.

There is a $25 per vehicle admission fee that is valid for seven days. Currently, the park accepts only credit or debit cards for payment at the entrance booths. 

In this guide, you'll find information about:

Getting Around

A solitary rock amidst the vast desert landscape.Petrified Forest National Park, image from Canva

Petrified Forest is pretty remote, but its location off I-40 makes it a fairly easy addition to an Arizona itinerary.

The nearest airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport an hour and 45 minutes (120 miles) to the west. This small airport has limited commercial flights available.

Most people fly in from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport three and a half hours (211 miles) to the southwest.

It could also be beneficial to fly in from the Albuquerque International Sunport (212 miles) just over three hours away.

It’s easy to attach Petrified Forest to a greater Arizona or American Southwest road trip. The park is:

  • two hours and twenty minutes (143 miles) from Sedona
  • three hours (202 miles) from the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim
  • three hours (186 miles) from Monument Valley
  • three hours (208 miles) from Albuquerque, NM, and
  • three and a half hours (211 miles) from Phoenix

Once you’re in the park, getting around is a breeze. One 28-mile road runs down the middle of the park from north to south with only one significant branch that loops, so there’s really no getting lost.

The park typically isn’t crowded, so you shouldn’t run into any parking issues. There are no shuttles–a car is definitely required for a self-guided tour.

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RELATED: Know Before You Go Shaka Guide's Petrified Forest National Park Tour

When to Visit

The park’s location on the high desert plain means extreme weather could happen year-round.

With that in mind, it’s possible to enjoy Petrified Forest National Park any time of the year.


A snowy landscape with a cluster of rocks scattered across it.Petrified Forest National Park, image from Canva

Though crowds are almost never a concern at Petrified Forest, winter is the park’s slow season. You may have some trials to yourself!

Though the weather could be sunny with highs in the 40s and 50s, don’t be surprised if there’s a dusting of snow and some ferocious winds whipping up a frigid wind chill. 


Temperatures in the summer hover in the 90’s and even pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

July through September is the area’s monsoon season, when afternoon thunderstorms could put a pause on a hike.

This is also the park’s busiest season, though with only about 600,000 visitors year round, this is hardly comparable to, say, the Grand Canyon’s busy season.


With less extreme temperatures, little rainfall, and fewer visitors than the summer peak, spring and fall are the ideal times to visit Petrified Forest.

Things to Do

There’s more to Petrified Forest National Park than just petrified wood, and you’ll find lots to do in the area.

old man using audio tour app

  • Marvel at the Painted Desert
  • Hike the alien landscape of the badlands or Painted Desert on one of the trails or an “Off the Beaten Path” hike
  • Learn about the area’s history and fossils at the park’s two visitor centers
  • Get your kicks on Route 66 in the town of Holbrook
  • Shop for petrified wood or handmade crafts from local tribes
  • Visit the town of Winslow, less than an hour to the west, and its Standin’ on a Corner Foundation and La Posada railroad hotel

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RELATED: Shaka Guide's Petrified National Forest Itinerary

Where to Stay

Since the park closes at night, there are no accommodations or campgrounds in the park, though you can backcountry camp with a free permit. 

Holbrook is about 30 minutes from the park and is the easiest place to stay the night, with old-style Route 66 motels and modern motel chains.

  • Wigwam Motel #6 (811 Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025) is one of the last remaining Wigwam Motels that were scattered across the country in the mid-20th century.
  • Brad’s Desert Inn (301 Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025) preserves the Route 66 motel mindset but with modern updates and conveniences. 
  • Holbrook’s Days Inn (2601 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025) is basic but clean, comfortable, and inexpensive.
  • The La Quinta Inn & Suites (2705 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025) gets the best reviews in Holbrook and features an indoor pool.

A plane soaring above a rocky desert landscape with billowing clouds in the sky.Petrified Forest National Park, image from Canva

If you’re willing to stay the night a little further afield in Winslow, then consider staying at the historic La Posada (303 E. 2nd St, Winslow, AZ 86047) with its gardens, exquisite restaurant, and art installations.

A truly unique experience, and less than an hour from Petrified Forest.

Where to Eat

The only place that serves meals within Petrified Forest is the Painted Desert Diner, which serves cafeteria-style sandwiches and hot dogs.

In the nearby town of Holbrook, most of the dining options revolve around American and Mexican favorites.

Bienvenidos Restaurant (2600 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025) is a family restaurant with plenty of diner favorites to boost your energy before a day at the park, or to reward yourself afterward.

Tiny diner Camaleon Cafe (2102 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025) does breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a simple but very yellow dining room.

Or grab a Navajo taco at Romo’s Restaurant (121 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025), an old standard for Mexican cuisine.

Again, if you have the flexibility to visit the town of Winslow, treat yourself to a fine meal at La Posada’s Turquoise Room (303 E. 2nd St, Winslow, AZ 86047).

Other FAQs

How much time do you need for Petrified Forest?

To see the highlights and explore a trail or two, expect to spend 3-4 hours in the park.

Does Petrified Forest allow dogs?

Dogs are welcome in the park anywhere you go aside from buildings. Keep your dog on a leash at all times and keep them a safe distance from resident wildlife.

Does Petrified Forest observe daylight savings time?

Keep in mind as you drive in from New Mexico or the Navajo Reservation that Arizona, and the Petrified Forest within, do not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Is there any cell coverage in Petrified Forest National Park?

Cell service is generally okay within the park, though you might lose service in the backcountry on one of the “Off the Beaten Path” trails.

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With this information and the Shaka Guide’s tour at your fingertips, you have everything you need for a successful and mesmerizing trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Happy traveling!

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Arizona National Park Guide: Discover breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage in Arizona's stunning national parks.

Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Petrified Forest National Park Tour!

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 aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Petrified Forest National Park Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.



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