hikers in colorful badland basin
Petrified Forest backcountry offers hikers the freedom to roam


Hikers on the Wilderness Loop
Hikers on the Wilderness Loop


Looking for an off-trail adventure? You can hike throughout the park, as long as you are safely and legally parked. (While in developed hiking areas, stay on designated trail though.)

There are some closed areas in the park due to safety concerns or fragile areas. Please don't enter these areas. To see the maps for these spots, check here. You can also visit the Superintendent's Compendium which is a great resource for rules and regulations.

Off the Beaten Path

Backcountry hiking offers the opportunity to visit sites seldom seen by most visitors. Ask for a free guide at one of the visitor centers. Some destinations are found off an old road or trail no longer maintained; others may require route finding skills.

Solo hiker among red mesas in the wilderness area
Solo hiker among red mesas in the wilderness area


Wilderness Area

Designated Wilderness Areas are protected and valued for their untrammeled, natural, undeveloped, and secluded qualities. The Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area was one of the first to receive this designation in the National Park System. The Wilderness Act (and our designated Wilderness Area) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. Learn more about what it means to be designated Wilderness.

The Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area that has two units: one in the north allowing hikers to roam the red and orange part of the Painted Desert; and one in the south showcasing highly eroded landscapes, badlands, and petrified wood.

Petrified wood and badlands in the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area
Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area


Wilderness Recreation Information

  • No permits are required for day hiking (except for Devils Playground). Day hikers must be back at their vehicles by the park’s posted closing time.
  • Be prepared! There is no water and little shade in the backcountry.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles
  • Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not allowed in Wilderness.
  • Horses and other pack animals are allowed in Wilderness.
Hoodoos tower at Devil's Playground
Hoodoos tower at Devil's Playground


Devil's Playground

This beautiful and remote part of the park is in the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area. The landscape is highly eroded into fanciful shapes and banded with gray, purple, and blue.

Three permits are available each week on a first-come-first-serve basis at the Painted Desert Visitor Center only. You must obtain your permit before noon on the day of your hike. You may call the visitor center at 928 524-6228 x236 to find out the status of these permits but permits cannot be set aside or saved.

Please note that visitors take the access road to Devil's Playground at their own risk, particularly in or after inclement weather.


While exploring outdoors, it is tempting to take a small piece of petrified wood, but remember removal of petrified wood or other natural and cultural artifacts found in the park is prohibited by law. Gift shops inside and outside the park sell petrified wood collected from private land outside the park boundaries.


Last updated: January 18, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Petrified Forest National Park
P.O. Box 2217

Petrified Forest, AZ 86028-2217


928 524-6228

Contact Us