I have a secret goal of visiting all the National Parks in the US. Not everyone in my family knows they a part of this goal yet! 😉 But whenever we start to define our new destinations, I try to see if we can squeeze in another National Park on route. (There are 58, and we’ve hit 28 so far!)
When we decided to travel to Sedona for a month after our Winter and Spring in Summit County, Colorado, I quickly identified the Petrified Forest National Park as the target NP. It is a lesser known park, but definitely worth seeing. It is part of the Painted Desert territory in Arizona, so there are vast colorful landscape views, even as you drive down the highway.
Unfortunately, there are not too many towns around this National Park, so it was a gamble for me to see it. But fortunately, since Arizona does not abide by Daylight Savings Time, we rolled into the park an hour before closing and enjoyed some awesome sunset views and even managed to secure another Junior Ranger Badge for the kids.
If you get a chance to visit this park, here are my recommendations:
- Stay in Gallup, NM or Flagstaff, AZ. They seem to have the best hotel options. Book them in advance if you are visiting in the summer.
- Plan to spend 4-6 hours inside the park to explore both the North and South Sides.
- Hike or run the Rim trail on the North Side which is only 1/2 mile
- Stop at all the highlighted sites like the Blue Mesa, Newspaper Rock, Agate Bridge, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, and Agate House on the South Side.
- Get the Junior Ranger Badge, Paleontologist Badge, and Centennial Badge for your kids.
I think you will enjoy the unique views and be amazed at the Petrified Logs strewn throughout the southern side and at the thought that the dry, barren land you are viewing was once a forest full of trees!