Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area Hiker
To stay overnight in the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area, obtain a free backcountry permit from Painted Desert Visitor Center (northern entrance of the park, 8 am-5 pm year round, potentially extended hours in summer) or Rainbow Forest Museum (southern entrance of the park, 8 am-5 pm year round, potentially extended hours in summer).
Most backpackers hike into the wilderness area at the north end of the park. Parking, facilities, and an access trail are available at Painted Desert Inn. Backpackers must hike north of Lithodendron Wash (1 mile from the access trailhead) before setting up camp. There is a southern unit of the wilderness area with a very different character.
Group camping is limited to 8. Because of the fragile soils and landscape features, minimum impact camping is very important. This includes limiting the number of people within an area.
Horses are allowed in the Wilderness Area. No permits are required for day trips but overnight camping requires a free permit (see above).
Rules, Regulations, and Safety Points:
- Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park.
- No bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed in the wilderness.
- No wood or charcoal fires are allowed. Please use fuel stoves.
- Bury human waste.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trash behind.
- Be aware that elevations average 5,800 feet.
- Temperatures vary greatly from extreme heat to bitter cold.
- Take all water necessary - one gallon per person per day is recommended during summer months.