Unlike its more popular sibling, Grand Canyon NP, Petrified Forest National Park doesn’t get as many visitors but makes up for it with an interesting winding drive and beautiful views. It’s named after the many petrified tree trunks found within its boundaries that’s formed over millions of years when the area was less desert and, believe it or not, more equatorial forest.
We started at the south entrance of the park, near Holbrook AZ, after spending a free night camping at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground. It’s a 28-mile drive from the southern Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center to the northern Painted Forest Visitor Center. The entrance fee is $20/car unless you have the America the Beautiful inter-agency pass, which costs $80, is valid for a year from purchase, and will allow entry into national parks, national forests, etc.
When we visited it was overcast and windy, so we didn’t get to go on any hikes. However, we did briefly stroll along the Giant Log trail at the Rainbow Forest Museum and made shorter stops at a number of scenic points along the drive.
We were treated to beautiful, colorful views along our drive and of course, lots of petrified logs: