A GUIDE TO THE MONUMENT
The many points of interest in Petrified Forest National Monument are located along a road that extends from the Painted Desert on the north to Rainbow Forest on the south, a distance of about 28 miles. Short drives to several places back from the main road may increase the distance of the complete trip through the area to about 34 miles. The guide map on the following pages shows the principal points of interest by number, and corresponding numbers above the map refer to descriptions of these features.
No attempt is made in the guide section to give detailed information regarding the listed features. You will find a more comprehensive story in exhibits at several points along the way and in the museum at the Rainbow Forest Visitor Center. Publications available at the visitor center and at the Painted Desert Orientation and Administration Building contain additional information.
The park ranger on duty at either the Painted Desert
facility (at the U,S. 66 end) or the visitor center (at the U.S. 260
end) will be happy to help you plan your tour to assure
Now, turn to page 10, examine the map, and prepare for your first stop, which will be at (1) if you enter the monument from U.S. 66 or at (14) if you enter from U.S. 260.
(1) Orientation and Administration Building. Here you may obtain information that will be helpful in making your visit to Petrified Forest National Monument more enjoyable. There are also exhibits showing the location of, and information about, other units of the National Park System in the Southwest.
The building contains the offices of the superintendent of the monument and his principal staff assistants and the facilities of one of the concessioners. Meals, refreshments, souvenirs, and film are available. A service station adjoins the parking area.
(2) Painted Desert. From several overlooks along the rim and from the observation site on Kachina Point, sweeping views offer excellent opportunities for taking color photographs of the Painted Desert. To the northwest is Pilot Rock, highest point in the monument, with an elevation of 6,235 feet. The Black Forest, a deposit of dark petrified wood in the midst of these colorful badlands, is not accessible to visitors.
A picnic area is located on Chinde Point, just west of the Kachina Point observation site. There is no water available at the picnic area.
(3) Puerco Indian Ruin. This ancient pueblo, or village, was occupied until about 600 years ago. Remains of walls at the site indicate a rectangular village of perhaps 150 rooms completely enclosing a large courtyard. A few of the rooms have been excavated.
(4) Newspaper Rock. A short spur road leads from the main monument road to the parking area above the prehistoric picture-writingsNewspaper Rock. The petroglyphs, pecked into the surface of a massive sandstone block, cannot be accurately interpreted. It is thought, however, that they are largely records of events in the lives of Indians who inhabited some of the nearby village sites.
(5) The Tepees. This name refers to a group of small peaks resembling tepees or haystacks. These interesting formations demonstrate the results of erosion cutting through the soft, layered clay deposits.
(6) Blue Mesa. A side road from the main monument road takes you to the top of Blue Mesa. Here you will see how petrified logs play a part in the constant renewal of the sculptured landscape. The soft earth erodes away, leaving a a gradually narrowing ridge beneath the length of each log. Eventually, sections of the log roll off the ridge; erosion then reduces the ridge to a series of rounded pinnacles. When a section of a fossil log remains as a protecting cap atop one of these pinnacles, erosion at the base of the pinnacle often produces a pedestal-like formation, holding the log section above the surrounding surface. Sections of logs that come to rest at new locations on the soft clay after tumbling from their perches immediately start the erosional cycle all over again.
(7) Agate Bridge. More than 100 feet of this famous log is exposed, but both ends are still encased in the sandstone in which the log was buried. A 40-footravine has gradually been carved into the sandstone layer, leaving the log spanning the narrow draw like a natural bridge. A concrete-beam support was placed under the heavy log in 1917 as a precaution against possible collapse.
(8) Jasper Forest. A short, paved spur road winds along the base of the cliffs which form Agate Bridge Mesa. Great masses of log sections litter the valley floor on either side of the road and clog the gullies that cut into the edge of the mesa. The principal log deposit here was high above the road level. Look carefully and you will see a number of logs protruding from the topmost layer beneath the rim of the mesa. In time, these too will be fully exposed by erosion and the sections will roll to the lower levels, adding to the concentration on the valley floor. The name "Jasper Forest" derives from the opaque colors of the petrified wood found here, though this is not really distinctive of this "forest."
(9) Crystal Forest. In this area there were once many fossil logs in which beautiful clear and amethyst quartz crystals filled the cracks and hollows. Before the establishment of the National Monument, collectors and souvenir hunters invaded the area and blasted many of the logs in search of these gems. It was this type of activity that prompted the citizens of the then Arizona Territory to petition Congress to establish a reserve for the preservation of Petrified Forest.
(10) The Flattops. Massive remnants of a once continuous layer of durable sandstone have protected a series of layered deposits which have elsewhere been utterly removed by erosion. The monument road passes through a cleft that separates the two main bodies of this remaining tableland.
(11) The Long Logs and Agate House. The eastern part of Rainbow Forest is most notable for the number of exceptionally long logs, which are only partly uncovered. Here, better than anywhere else in the monument, you can observe the "logjam" character of the deposits, with the logs resting helter-skelter upon one another like jackstraws. A partially restored pueblo, now called Agate House, is at the end of the foot trail that leads to the south from the parking area.
(12) Rainbow Forest Visitor Center (Museum) and (13) the Giant Logs. The exhibits in the visitor center building have a dual purpose: to answer questions that might have been brought to mind during your trip through the monument, and to serve as an introduction to the story for visitors just arriving at the monument. Through the rear door of the exhibit hall, you will find the Old Faithful Log and many other exceedingly large logs in the Giant Log section of Rainbow Forest.
A picnic area and concession facilities are conveniently located around the parking area near the visitor center.
(14) Rainbow Forest Entrance Station. This station, located 2 miles from the monument boundary on U.S. 260, may serve either as your entrance to the monument or as your exit from it after you drive through from U.S. 66.
Last Updated: 14-Aug-2009