ARIZONA: Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert

May 13th ~ Petrified Forest National Park

Painted Desert Inn, Petrified Forest National Park

We got another late start today, but still had enough time to get a good overview of this diverse National Park. Entering from the southern entrance, we made a brief stop at a “tourist trap” type of museum/gift shop.

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They had quite a selection of fossils, rocks, pottery and of course petrified wood slabs. The pricing was quite high, and since we were not in the market, we quickly moved on into the park.

Petrified Forest National Park

We got an orientation from a ranger and watched an informative movie at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitors Center. After some Q&A, we had our map marked of which highlights we were most interested in checking out.

Giant Logs Trail

Along the Giant Logs pathway

The southern end of the park is where the majority of petrified logs can be found. Right behind the visitors center is a walking path where some of the most colorful examples can be seen up close.

Collared Lizard

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Blue Mesa

You can walk the 1 mile trail and/or drive the 3.5 mile loop road to check out the colorful geology.

Walking trail down into the Blue Mesa area

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We walked part of the trail, but then found an overlook just a bit further down the road with wonderful views into the canyon.

View point from the road if you don’t want to hike the trail

Views were constantly changing as we drove down the road.

The Teepees?

Newspaper Rock

There are over 650 petroglyphs, some of them over 2000 years old. You can only observe them from a lookout platform. The only way to get a good view is through the viewing lens on the deck, bring your own binoculars, or use a high power camera lens to snap a photo.

Newspaper Rock, small sample of Petroglyphs

Puerco Pueblo

Ancestral Puebloan homes and more petroglyphs. You can get much closer to these for better viewing.

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Route 66

The Mother Road used to pass through the park. There is a 1932 Studebaker, well the shell of one anyway, that marks where Route 66 used to be.

1932 Studebaker

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Painted Desert Inn 

The inn is a National Historic Landmark. Sadly we got there just after it closed, so had to be satisfied with taking pictures of the outside only.

Painted Desert Inn

Kachina Point

Another wonderful viewpoint. This one is located right behind the Painted Desert Inn.

View from Kachina Point

Cliff Rose (thanks RamblingRanger for identifying it for us)

Painted Desert Visitors Center

This is only a small center and it shows the same movie we had already seen, so quickly moved on down the road.

It was time to find a place to camp for the night. The Red Rock Park near Gallup, NM had been recommended. We plan on staying here for two nights.

Red Rock Park Campground

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that although warm, it was not too hot to comfortably do a bit of hiking. Back in 1991, Tim and I had briefly scooted through the edge of this park, but had not spent much time exploring. I am glad that we had the time to give it the respect it deserves and could spend the better part of a day here.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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31 Responses to ARIZONA: Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert

  1. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson says:

    I know I visited this area with my parents when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much. These photos are gorgeous and make me want to put this place on my list. My list is getting very long. 🙂 Enjoy the Mother Road!


  2. One of my favorite places to go in Arizona. Love exploring that area.


  3. It is well worth the revisit. Glad you enjoyed seeing our pictures.


  4. Darlene says:

    A fascinating place. We drove through it on a motorcycle in 1996. I loved it but it was mid-day in July so very very hot. Your pictures are great!


  5. judilyn says:

    Like so many others . . . I’ve been there, but remember little. Your photos are quite the stimulus for a revisit!!! Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photos. ;->

    Virtual hugs,



  6. Judie, glad to see we are nudging you for a revisit. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it the second time around.


  7. Enjoyed the photos and the story. Enjoy your trip


  8. Sandhya says:

    Beautiful pics. I want to go there after seeing your pics. Loved that dessert inn!


  9. ramblingranger says:

    The flower is a cliffrose.


  10. Whoa! What sights! You have reminded me that back in elementary school, one of my classmates came back from summer vacation having visited the Petrified Forest. I was so jealous. Something I really wanted to do but have forgotten about until now. Back on the list it goes!


  11. I’m glad you had some time to enjoy these beautiful and usual places.


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great blog! We were on a tour last year that took in the Painted Desert but we didn’t make Petrified Forest. What an awe-undoing landscape! I hope we can go back and see more, some other time. Enjoy your trip- and keep posting your wonderful photos!


  13. It’s interesting how much of that landscape looks like Badlands National Park.


  14. Jeff Bell says:

    That old Studebaker is just about as cool as the geology there. They don’t make cars like they used to.


  15. regularguyadventures says:

    I really enjoyed Petrified Forest. It’s one of those parks that flies below the radar and is better than I expected. I enjoy following you guys.


  16. roadtrippingagain says:

    Its funny, when we went to the Petrified Forest NP, by the time we got to the Desert Inn it was also closed. Hmmmm, is it really ever open??? 😉


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