A Place for Discovery
Petrified Forest National Park
One of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world is found at Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, about 110 miles east of Flagstaff and 210 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Scientific studies show that the petrified trees found within the park date back 211 to 218 million years. Add to that dramatic, colorful geological formations and ancient art and you’ll quickly see why Petrified Forest National Park is a must-visit; last year, just over 643,000 people trekked through the park.
Petrified Forest National Park has a remarkably diverse and long human history. Evidence shows there are over 13,000 years of human occupation. People first came to the area in nomadic groups following the last Ice Age, and have been present ever since. Animal life at Petrified Forest includes amphibians, birds, insects, spiders, mammals, and reptiles. Birds, lizards and rabbits are seen most frequently, though seasons and weather play a large role in determining what animals are active.For many animals, activity occurs during a particular temperature range. Crepuscular animals are active at dawn and dusk, the coolest times of day. The half-darkness makes prey animals less visible, yet visibility is good enough to locate food.
Not all plants at Petrified Forest National Park are fossils. Living plants are critical components within the grassland ecosystem found throughout the park. Plants capture particulate dust in the air, filter gaseous pollutants, convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, provide habitat for animals, and supply raw materials for humans.
Another terrific way to experience the park is by lacing up your hiking shoes and hitting the trails. A one-way spur road from the main park road leads to Blue Mesa and a one-mile loop trail in a badlands setting. Additional hiking options include the one-mile roundtrip.
*Painted Desert Rim Trail; 0.3-mile
*Puerco Pueblo loop; 0.75-mile
*Crystal Forest loop; 0.4-mile
*Giant Logs loop; 1.6-mile
*Long Logs loop; and the 2-mile roundtrip.