Plan A Field Trip
Curriculum-based Education Program
Wouldn't it be great if you could incorporate lessons from the classroom into a real world, hands-on experience? You can! Petrified Forest National Park has a curriculum-based program aligned with the Arizona Science (5-24-04) and Mathematics Standards for Grades 4-8: Rockin' Through the Ages: From Fossils to Petroglyphs.
Ranger-Led Field Trips
Petrified Forest National Park offers a variety of free, ranger-led, curriculum-based programs. These programs are correlated to Arizona and national learning standards, and provide students with an engaging learning experience by utilizing the park's natural and cultural resources as teaching tools. Programs are 1 to 1.5 hours long and are available between 8:30am and 4pm, Tuesday through Thursday.
All programs require pre-registration. To arrange a special ranger program, please contact the education program coordinator at (928)524-6228 x238. Ranger availability is not guaranteed. For better scheduling options please contact us at least three weeks prior to your planned visit date.
The following ranger-led programs are offered by-request in the park:
Simulated Fossil Excavation: Grades 1– 5, 90-120 minutes
Students will experience the thrill of discovery while learning how to see the bigger picture of an ancient ecosystem. They will map, measure, and identify fossilized remains of Triassic animals and plants. (real and replica fossils are available) This program is the culmination of the Rocking through the Ages curriculum but can also be conducted as a stand-alone activity. Group size is limited to 25 students.
Simulated Archeology Excavation: Grades 1 – 5, 90-120 minutes
Students engage in archeological field techniques while learning to measure, map, and identify artifacts of the ancestral Puebloan culture. This program is the culmination of the Rocking through the Ages curriculum but can also be conducted as a stand-alone activity. Group size is limited to 25 students.
Geology/Clam Beds Hike: Grades 3-8, 60-90 minutes
Students hike with a ranger into the badlands of Petrified Forest where they learn how to make observations, read the rocks around them, discover fossil evidence and discuss ideas about Arizona's geologic past. Group Size is limited to 25 students.
Museum Detectives: Grades 3-8, 60 minutes
This program takes place at the Rainbow Forest Museum. Students use fossil replicas to observe, and identify skeletal anatomy of Triassic reptiles and dinosaurs. The activity is followed by a short presentation of their findings to the group.
Museum Detectives Lesson Plan
Students prepare thoughtful questions ahead of time and spend a half hour with a ranger discussing Petrified Forest geology, paleontology, ecology, and human history.
Special topic programs can also be arranged by contacting the education program coordinator at 928-524-6228 ex 238.
Self-Guided Field Trips
If you are unable to participate in a ranger-led field trip to Petrified Forest, or if our educational programs do not meet your curricular needs, consider organizing your own class field trip to the park. The following resources will help in planning your visit. If you need further assistance, please contact us at (928)524-6228 x238.
Apply for an Entrance Fee Waiver
Petrified Forest collects a park entrance fee for each vehicle entering the park, but academic groups may apply to have that fee waived. To apply for a waiver click here.
Curriculum Materials: Browse our lesson plans and suggested reading list for activity ideas before and after your trip.
Background Information: Downloadable brochures on various park related subjects.
What to know before you visit: (click on links for PDF)
Stop by the Painted Desert Visitor Center
Located at the north entrance of the park (off of I-40 at exit 311) the Painted Desert Visitor Center offers the 17 minute park movie “Timeless Impressions”, a Petrified Forest Museum Association bookstore, specimens of petrified wood on display, and friendly park staff to answer your questions.
Stop by the Rainbow Forest Museum
Located at the south entrance of the park (off of US highway 180) the museum transports you back in time over 200 million years to the late Triassic epoch. There are many interpretative exhibits showcasing the paleontological and geological discoveries within the park as well as continued research by scientists. The 17 minute park movie “Timeless Impressions” can also be seen here. There is a Petrified Forest Museum Association bookstore inside the museum as well as friendly park staff to answer your questions. Please enter this location quietly in case there is a ranger program in progress.
Attend a Ranger Program
During the summer, many free ranger programs are offered on a regular schedule. For small groups, there is typically no need to pre-register. For large groups, please contact us in advance so we can accommodate you.
There are 7 established trails to walk throughout the park. For groups larger than 20 individuals, breaking into smaller groups on the trails is appreciated as a courtesy to fellow hikers. Be prepared! Water is not available at all trail locations. Please help keep your park looking natural by staying on paved surfaces while walking trails. For off the beaten path hikes feel free to explore our designated wilderness areas or check out one of our Off The Beaten Path guides.
If you are not able to make it to Petrified Forest National Park and live within about 100 miles of the park, we may be able to arrange for a park ranger to visit your classroom. Here are some examples of possible classroom programs, although we can always try to cater to your specific education needs.