Petrified Forest National Park is located in the picturesque part of northeastern Arizona. The size of this park is about 218,533 acres, and offers many attractions; chief among them are the fossils which allow visitors to catch a glimpse into life some 225 million years ago. Some visitors find the first view of the petrified national forest somewhat disappointing; inevitably, quite a few travelers envision trees, perhaps as tall as redwoods, and real life forests. Instead, they must first come to terms with the fact that the Arizona Petrified Forest is not a live forest after all: the wood is petrified, and instead of rows upon rows of lush trees, there are only stumps left here and there on the desert ground. No matter what a visitor's initial impression of the park may be, Petrified Forest National Park will not permit any disappointment to linger for long, and soon the guest will be fascinated with the myriad of activities and sights that are awaiting exploration.
For example, the Arizona Petrified Forest features many wonderful hiking trails. As always, hikers should be aware that hiking is only permitted on trails, and leaving of trails is strictly discouraged. The surrounding flora is rather fragile, and any damage that hiking boots would cause will take a long time to repair itself. Similarly, pets need to be closely supervised and always leashed. The Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Giant Logs, and Crystal Forest trails are relatively short, one mile or less, and allow for some amazing sightseeing. Long Logs and Agate House trails are more than a mile long each, and so the exercise is a bit more strenuous and should be left to the well-prepared and in shape visitors. For the adventurous backpacker, there is the opportunity to hike into the wilderness area of Petrified National Forest, and perhaps even spend the night there. As the name implies, there are no amenities, and overnighters will do well to bring lots of water and also blankets. Campsites are not provided. Additionally, only fuel stoves are permitted, as wood or charcoal fires are strictly prohibited.
If hiking, backcountry camping, or even backpacking do not appeal to you, Arizona Petrified Forest still has a lot to offer. If you happen upon the park while traveling in your recreational vehicle, please note that the roads are wide enough to allow for even the bigger rigs to drive through without any problems. Additionally, the Arizona Petrified Forest grounds have paved pull through parking sites that allow RV travelers to exit their vehicles, do some sightseeing, and then continue on. The park service estimates that the length of the park, without any breaks, may be traversed by car in as little as forty-five minutes.
It is obvious that Arizona Petrified Forest offers some fascinating opportunities for learning about our planet's history, for backpacking enthusiasts, hikers, and even the occasional traveler who may only wish to take a short nature walk and then continue onward in the comfort of a vehicle. Enjoy your stay!