Wherever we travel, we always try to spend some time at our national parks and historic landmarks. There’s just something special about seeing the amazing beauty as we crisscross the United States. If you are traveling on I-40 in eastern Arizona, you definitely should take the time to drive through Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert.
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What to Expect at Petrified Forest National Park
Most people enter Petrified Forest National Park from I-40 at exit 311. Drive a few minutes north to the entrance of the Petrified Forest.
You can stop at the Visitors Center, tour the exhibit hall, use the restrooms and take a stretch break. There are covered picnic tables and handicap/stroller accessible paths.
Drive 28 miles on Petrified Forest Road to see all the amazing beauty of the National Park. You will start on the north side of the interstate where there are multiple overlooks to take in views of the Painted Desert.
Keep driving through the Painted Desert part of the Park and then you will cross the interstate and enter the Petrified Forest area of the park. There are several unique stops along the drive that are well worth the stop!
See a 110 ft petrified log spanning a gully.
- When you cross the Interstate, you will come to the junction of historic Route 66 that is commemorated by the vintage cars.
- Stop at Jasper Forest where you can enjoy a panoramic view of an area with a high concentration of petrified wood
- Newspaper Rock – Look down from an overlook to see over 650 petroglyphs, some as old as 2000 years.
- Blue Mesa and the Tepees
Remember that you cannot take any of the petrified wood out of the park with you but there are two places where you can stop and buy souvenirs. Once we left the park, we stopped at Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co (147 US-180, Holbrook, AZ 86025) where we were able to buy pieces of petrified wood to take home!
Things to Know:
- There is a fee for admission to the park but you can use your military or America the Beautiful pass.
- It is a 28 mile road. You will enter and exit at two different places but once you leave the park, you are on good roads and can easily reconnect to the interstate.
- Plan for 2-3 hours if you do minimal side stops or photo opps.
- There are no restrooms along the 28 mile trail. Use the restroom at the Visitor Center before you start the trail.
- Do not pick up souvenirs inside the park.
Looking for more things to do in Arizona? Check out Horseshoe Bend just a few hours north!