With one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood, multi-hued badlands of the Painted Desert, historic structures, archeological sites, and displays of over 200-million-year-old fossils, this is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science.
Most of the visitors concentrate along the overlooks and short trails of the 28-mile park road. In summer, the busiest season, parking areas are packed and facilities are crowded. Like many of the national parks, years of use have made an impact.
If you have one hour:
Stop at the Painted Desert Visitor Center, then drive the 28-mi park road, and visit Rainbow Forest Museum.
If you have several hours then...
see the park film at the Painted Desert Visitor Center or Rainbow Forest Museum, Stop at Kachina Point and Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark (Museum & Bookstore), Stop at Pintado Point, Newspaper Rock, and Jasper Forest.
Walk Puerco Pueblo Trail; drive Blue Mesa Road; walk Giant Logs Trail (pick up a trail guide in the Museum)
If you have half a day or more then walk more of the developed trails and/or hike into the one of the units of the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area.
Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 and Highway 180.
Painted Desert Visitor Center and Park Headquarters
is located north of I-40
Rainbow Forest Visitor Center und Museum
is located south of I-40
Private vehicles: $10 (for 7 days)
Single bicyclists, motorcyclists, and walk-ins: $5 (for 7 days)