Petrified Forest – Photos

May 2, 2022

You might drive by the Petrified Forest National Park as you travel I40 near Holbrook Arizona not realizing what you just passed as all you see is desert and a few signs to the park; you can’t see any of it from interstate and you may wonder what all the fuss is about. But let me tell you when you do pull off I40, all of the sudden… there it is in its all wonder. The Park is made of of the North area and the South area. The North area has the Painted Forest and the South Area has the Petrified Forest. The drive from the Visitor Center near I40 to the Museum in the South is about 28 miles long and you will want to drive all of it, stopping at over-looks, turn-outs, and other areas.

The park not only has petrified wood but has fossils from the the late Triassic Period, about 225 million years ago. Back then the area was hot, humid, lush, and green. Its hard to imagine the desert today as a tropical landscape then with abundant vegetation, ferns, horsetails, etc. Dinosaurs and reptiles roamed the area with fish, clams, snails, and the giant 180-foot conifers (tress) reaching to the skies. Over the past 200 million years of climate change the layers of sediment and wind have buried things… however, wind and water have continually molded the area and peeled back these layers giving us a glimpse of the tropical land that we know as Arizona.

Below are photos of three areas, 1) the Painted Desert, 2) Blue Meas, & 3) Crystal Forest with an explanation of each. If you go, these three areas are a must to see.

Click on a photo to make it larger.

Painted Desert

As you leave the northern visitors center you will start to see the red painted desert. Several pull offs are available to see the complete vastness of the land that was hidden. There is a National Historic building called the “Painted Deseret Inn” built in Pueblo Revival style in the early 20th century. Now a museum with exhibits.

Some of the photos are panoramic so you will want to turn your phone or zoom in. There are also a few petroglyphs photos from the “Newspaper Rock” turn-off that are over 2,000 years old.

Blue Mesa

The Blue Mesa is the start of the Southern area where you will see petrified wood scattered through out. The turn off to the Blue Meas area is about a 3.5 mile drive to a 1-mile loop where there are vibrant blue, purple, and gray badlands dotted with colorful petrified wood. There is also a paved steep 1-mile trail you can walk through the area. We did not do the trail.

Crystal Forest

What a cool place… named because of the vast and numerous amounts of petrified wood. There is a 1-mile paved trail through a badlands landscape with many intact logs that glimmer with colorful quartz crystals. We did the trail and Rene’e used her electric wheel chair which worked out great. Crystal Forest is at the southern part of the 28 mile route. After the forest we visited the small museum at the southern boarder of the park.

What a wonderful experience, my be one of out top visits on this trip. If you are ever in the area you might want to take a day to visit the Petrified Forest. You won’t be disappointed!