Special programs will be offered throughout the year! Check the searchable Calendar, as well as our social media pages.
Ranger Guided Programs are available seasonally and as staffing allows, but our staff is always roving the park. Keep an eye out for roving rangers in popular areas like Puerco Pueblo, Crystal Forest, and Giant Logs for on-the-spot information.
August Programs and Event
Saturday August 18 Fossil Dig: Discovery and Excavation 8am – 4:30pm This program is offered by Petrified Forest Field Institute and an additional fee is required; see http://www.petrifiedforestfieldinstitute.org/ for additional information. Prepare to get dirty digging in the Triassic Chinle Formation for fossil bones of giant amphibians, reptiles, and even early dinosaurs. Join the park paleontologist for a fossil dig in Petrified Forest National Park that provides an introduction to paleontology field work. The day includes a behind the scenes tour of the park fossil collections and travel ‘off the beaten’ path to the dig site. Training and tools provided for participating in a real paleontological dig with collected specimens becoming part of the park’s museum collection.
Saturday August 25 Cultural Demonstrators: the Harvey Girls Painted Desert Inn 10am-3pm The iconic Harvey Girls will be present to answer questions and share their stories of a bygone era while displaying some of the historic service-ware of their trade. Based in nearby Winslow, the Harvey Girls were an integral part of the history of the American west and particularly at the historic Painted Desert Inn.
September Programs and Event
Saturday September 8 Hands-on Biology: Reptiles and Amphibians—Nighttime 7pm - midnight This program is offered by Petrified Forest Field Institute and an additional fee is required; see http://www.petrifiedforestfieldinstitute.org/ for additional information. Join Petrified Forest National Park biologist Andy Bridges for a hands-on experience with reptiles and amphibians. Participants will drive slowly down the 28 miles of the main park road starting at sunset, stopping to take data on each animal seen (and then move those animals off the road). Animal activity is very dependent on weather and lunar cycles, so this is a ‘go’ rain or shine to see how different conditions affect animal behavior. Time will also be taken to enjoy the quiet darkness of the park and the beautiful night sky.
Saturday September 8 & Sunday September 9 Nightscape Photography 3pm (Sat Sep 8)–noon (Sun Sep 9) This program is offered by Petrified Forest Field Institute and an additional fee is required; see http://www.petrifiedforestfieldinstitute.org/ for additional information. Join Emmy award winning instructor Frank Kraljic for this workshop! Participants will hike inside the park under a moonless night sky for a privileged photography opportunity using the Milky Way as a backdrop to the unique and other-worldly landscape attractions found exclusively in the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Open to novice and experienced astrophotographers alike, this hands-on workshop includes field tutorials including camera operation and setup, shot planning, and scene lighting and capturing. Expect to night hike “off-the-beaten path” carrying photographic equipment several miles over the course of the night.
Wednesday September 12–Sunday September 16 Navajo County Fair Fairgrounds in Holbrook, AZ Look for the Petrified Forest National Park booth at the Navajo County Fair! Park staff will be on hand to introduce visitors to what makes the park so special. Fair website: https://www.navajocountyfair.com/
Saturday September 15 Pedal the Petrified Bike Ride This program is offered by Northland Pioneer College and an additional fee is required; see http://www.npc.edu/pedal4scholarships for additional information. Limited to 225 riders. Ride a metric century (100 km) or half century (50 km) through Petrified Forest National Park to raise scholarship money for Northland Pioneer College.
Sunday September 16 Live Camel Presentations at Petrified Forest Chinde Point 10am-4pm Live Camel Programs at 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, & 3pm (allow 30 minutes) Learn about Lieutenant Beale, his work in 1857 to create the 1,000-mile Beale Wagon Road from New Mexico to California (and passes directly through the park), and the bold Army experiment utilizing camels to do so! Doug Baum of the Texas Camel Corps will provide several 30-minute presentations and staff will be on-hand with related hands-on, family-friendly activities.
Saturday September 22 Fee Free Day Throughout the park All day Celebrate Public Lands Day with free entry into Petrified Forest National Park (and all other National Parks throughout the country). Enjoy the gift of your public lands!
Saturday September 22 Cultural Demonstrators: the Harvey Girls Painted Desert Inn 10am-3pm The iconic Harvey Girls will be present to answer questions and share their stories of a bygone era while displaying some of the historic service-ware of their trade. Based in nearby Winslow, the Harvey Girls are an integral part of the history of the American west and particularly at historic Painted Desert Inn.
Sunday September 23 – Friday September 28 Paleontology and Geology in the Land of Color: A Fossil Survey of Petrified Forest National Park Various locations throughout the park 10am (Sun Sep 23) – 12pm (Fri Sep 28) This program is offered by Petrified Forest Field Institute and an additional fee is required; see http://www.petrifiedforestfieldinstitute.org/ for additional information. Petrified Forest National Park is deservedly known as one of the best records of Late Triassic paleontology and geology in the world. Join park staff and renowned paleontologist Christa Sadler for an exploration of paleontology and archeology of newly acquired park lands. Participants will car-camp in a remote area of the park and ‘prospect’ surrounding badlands for new fossil localities (as well as excavate fossils at known localities). There will also be time to learn fossil prep work in the park lab and have time to explore!
Find Your Park
Celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial by sharing your own story! Browse the official Find Your Park website for inspiration, then upload your own song, photo, painting, poem, dance, video – anything you’d like to share about your visit.
Selected locations throughout the park
During park hours
Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking virtual ‘treasure’, and anyone with a GPS device can play! There are several self-guided geocaches at Petrified Forest National Park where a hidden container can be found and a log book signed. For more information on geocaching, visit Geocaching.com.
Junior Ranger Program
Pick up a booklet at any park Visitor Center
During park hours
Junior Rangers explore, learn about, and protect their national parks! Fun activities engage young visitors at Petrified Forest and are rewarded with a badge and patch by finishing this booklet.
Junior Paleontologist Program
Pick up a booklet at any park Visitor Center
During park hours
Explore the ways paleontologists work, learn about Earth's history, and protect our national parks, including fossils and the rocks in which they are found! Earn a special paleontology badge by finishing this booklet.
Painted Desert Inn Tour
Painted Desert Inn
Anytime between 9am—4pm
Painted Desert Inn is a beautiful building with rich history and stunning views to boot. Ask any staff member in the building to give you a brief, personal tour during your visit, and if they can they will!
Petrified Forest Field Institute is proud to offer guided tours and field classes exploring fun and compelling subjects lead by world class guides and experts.
In the Artist-in-Residence Program selected artists spend time living and working in the park, sharing their experiences with visitors.
The park hosts regional cultural demonstrators throughout the year, coordinated by the park's partner Petrified Forest Museum Association. Visit with the demonstrators at the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark (2 miles from the north entrance of the park) between 10am and 4pm Tuesday through Saturday. Calendar is available here.