Petrified wood eroding from bentonite clay hills in the Blue Mesa region. Photo by T.Scott Williams Petrified Forest National Park in Northern Arizona lies on either side of Interstate 40 about 55 miles west of the New Mexico border and 25 miles east of Holbrook. It includes a grassland ecosystem and the badlands of the Painted Desert. The terrain changes quickly as you travel through the park, from the vistas of the Painted Desert, into the grassland of a large plateau, through grand geologic formations, and arrays of richly colored petrified wood. Petrified Forest was set aside as a national monument in 1906 to preserve and protect the petrified wood for its scientific value.
Petrified Forest National Park, since 1962, is now recognized as protecting the best representation of the Late Triassic Period in the world (check out our Paleontology Pages for specific fossil information), significant archeological sites representing cultures during over 10,000 years of occupation, recent human history such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, Route 66, and historic architecture, as well as the natural ecosystems rapidly being lost in other areas. Visitors can drive the 28 miles of the park road, stopping at any number of overlooks to see petrified wood, petroglyphs, archeological sites, and Painted Desert vistas. Those with more time can explore the secrets of the backcountry. Permits are available for those visitors who wish to camp overnight.
The park has summer daytime average temperatures in the 90s F and summer overnight temperatures in the 60s F.
Winters are mild, frequently freezing overnight but warming by mid-afternoon to an average of 40 F. Petrified Forest National Park is open every day except Christmas.
Closures for weather are possible but not frequent.