Things To Do

Many people don't realize how much there is to do at Petrified Forest National Park! There is something to interest everyone here. Be sure to check our Calendar to see if something special is happening the day you will be here.

 
Snowy Petrified Logs
Snow on petrified logs.

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Winter
Winter in Arizona is often misunderstood. Most think of the mild temperatures and palm trees of the Phoenix area or the low desert around Quartzite. Nearly half the state is higher than 4000’, opening up the possibility of lower temperatures and snow. Over the last few years, precipitation has been less than average in some areas, but cold is not unusual. If you come to Petrified Forest, the lowest elevation in the park is 5000’ so be prepared for winter conditions, both in driving and exploring. When the sun is out and the wind low or nonexistent, it can be practically warm! However, just be ready for ice on the roads and wear layers of clothing so you can peel to comfort.
 
Snow covers badland hills in the Painted Desert
Snow covers badland hills in the Painted Desert

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Snow is beautiful in the Painted Desert. The moisture makes the colors of the rock, including petrified wood, saturated and rich. The white is starkly lovely against red badlands. It can also make the clay of the hills impassible. Be very careful about parking in some of the unpaved pullouts and walking cross-country. The bentonite can make footing very slippery and/or sticky. Snow melt or rain also fills washes, so take precautions if crossing a watercourse. Inversion layer can develop if there is precipitation or humidity. That is an amazing sight in the Painted Desert. Still be careful driving the road if there is mist. Be good to yourself and drink plenty of water. The cooler temperatures may make you less thirsty, but we are still very dry. Rehydrate!
 
Painted Desert Inn in Snow
Painted Desert Inn in Snow

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Don’t miss discovering Petrified Forest National Park during the winter. There are less people; you may have a trail to yourself. Most of the maintained trails are graveled or paved making it easy to walk through the area. The viewpoints will be even more spectacular. The appearance of the park is even more surreal (Mars with snow?) and beautiful. Enjoy exploring with some winter know-how.
 
Colorful classic cars parked at Crystal Forest
Classic Cars at Crystal

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Hit the Road
A good starting point is a drive through the park, stopping at some of the overlooks.

 
Hikers on the Blue Mesa Trail among colorfully banded badlands
Hikers on the Blue Mesa Trail

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Hit the Trail
There are maintained trails in the park that highlight topics like archeology, natural environments, and the famous petrified logs.

 
Backcountry hikers amidst color badlands.
Backcountry Hike in Red Basin

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Hiking
The adventurous hiker will love wandering off trail in the Petrified Forest. For those that want guidance we have Off the Beaten Path routes as well.

 
Backpacker in the Wilderness
Backpacker in the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area

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Backpacking
Hiking and camping in the Wilderness of Petrified Forest is a great opportunity for solitude and adventure. Enjoy colorful sunsets, the incredible night sky, and inspiring sunrises.

 
Bicycling through the Tepees
Bicycling through the Tepees

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Bicycling
The park road is great for exploring, but there are a few other routes you can take by bike.

 
Horses on the Wilderness Access Trail
Horses on the Wilderness Access Trail

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Horseback Riding
Play cowboy! Enjoy a ride in the park--BYOH (bring your own horse!)

 
Visitors look at a geocache
Visitors check out one of the park's geocaches

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Geocaching

This worldwide game—or other similar pastimes—of hiding and seeking treasure can be played in some national parks, including Petrified Forest!
 
Visitors listen to a ranger on a program
Visitors listen to a ranger on a program

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Guided Tours
Join a ranger—or scientist, volunteer, cultural demonstrator, reenactor, or other field expert—for a guided activity.

 
Dog and Daddy on Crystal Forest Trail
Dog and Daddy on Crystal Forest Trail

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Dogs and Other Critters
Enjoy the park with your furry (feathered, scaled or…) friend or family member!

 
Staff greets visitors at the Painted Desert Visitor Center
Staff greets visitors at the Painted Desert Visitor Center

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Visitor Centers and Exhibits
Stop at Painted Desert Visitor Center, Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark, and the Rainbow Forest Museum to plan your visit, ask questions, get your Junior Ranger booklet, and discover exhibits.

Last updated: December 24, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Park Road, PO Box 2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028

Phone:

(928) 524-6228

Contact Us