Photo Credit: Wolfgang Frick
Pack your RV and slather on the sunscreen—adventure awaits in the colorful Petrified Forest National Park.
The park’s name comes from the petrified wood deposits that date back to as far as 225 million years. What were once towering coniferous trees, tree ferns and ginkgos are now crystallized minerals. This crystal collection is one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrified wood, drawing thousands of visitors each year.
Experience the history that Petrified Forest National Park has to offer. Read our tell-all guide and prepare for an experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Petrified Forest National Park Facts
Paleontologists have flocked to Petrified Forest National Park since the early 1900s to explore the petrified wood and other types of fossils. Today, the park is a perfect destination for RVers and camping enthusiasts, thanks to spacious pull-outs and a well-developed paved road system. Keep reading to learn more Petrified Forest National Park fast facts.
- The region became a national monument in 1906 but was launched as Petrified Forest National Park in 1962.
- The park boasts more than 800 important archeological and historical sites.
- It is the only national park in the U.S. to have a portion of the historic and famous Route 66.
- Almost 50,000 acres in Petrified Forest National Park is classified as wilderness and will never be developed with trails or roads.
- Petrified wood can appear in different colors, including brown, black, orange, red, purple, white, yellow and orange. The colors come from minerals such as manganese, quartz and iron.
- Nine of the park’s tourist sites appear on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of these include the 35th Parallel Route, the Painted Desert Visitor Center, 35th Parallel Route, the Agate House Pueblo and the Painted Desert Petroglyphs.
- Wildlife in the park includes coyotes, salamanders, prairie dogs, pronghorns, snakes, bobcats, mule deer, lizards and scorpions. The park also has at least 216 bird species.
- The most popular visiting spots include Tawa Point, Jasper Forest, Agate House, Agate Bridge, Newspaper Rock, Long Logs, Tiponi Point and Crystal Forest.
Best Petrified Forest National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Photo Credit: Donald Giannatti
While there are no campgrounds within the park, the surrounding towns like Joseph City and Holbrook have plenty of private campgrounds for RV campers. Each of these campgrounds offers something unique for everyone.
Let’s take a look at the most popular RV camping spots near Petrified Forest National Park.
Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA
: What Holbrook/Petrified may lack in inspiring scenic views, the campground makes up for convenience. Holbrook/Petrified is a ten-minute drive from the southwest entrance of Petrified Forest National Park.
The campsite is equipped with all the necessary and essential amenities, making it perfect for families and avid campers. Let Holbrook be your base camp to explore all the surrounding monuments. Convenient access to I-40 gets you to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park in twenty minutes.
: 126 Campsites
: Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA
: If you prefer a secluded campground, Flagstaff KOA may be the appropriate RV park near Petrified Forest National Park for you. Flagstaff KOA is 99 miles away from Petrified Forest, but the campground more than makes up for the distance. The campground has free WiFi, 50 amp campsites and RV patio sites. Even more, campers are welcome to use the camp’s restrooms and showers, visit the on-site grocery store and rent banana bikes.
: 200 Campsites
: Flagstaff KOA
Lyman Lake State Park
: Lyman Lake State Park is located nearly fifty miles away from Petrified Forest National Park. This conveniently-located campground has many amenities, including full hookups, showers, restrooms and a park store. In addition to advantageous amenities, the park also has sweeping views of Lyman Lake, an irrigation reservoir.
: 56 Campsites
: Lyman Lake Campground
Homolovi Ruins State Park
: Homolovi Ruins State Park is home to another campground near Petrified Forest National Park. Located nearly fifty miles away, the campground is just under an hour’s drive from the national park. The campground has a combination of pull-through and back-in campsites, which intermittently have 50 or 30 amp hookups. Additionally, there is a dump station.
: 53 Campsites
: Homolovi Ruins State Park
: Cottonwood Campground is located in the nearby Canyon de Chelly National Monument—101 miles away from the petrified forest. The campground has three restroom facilities that are equipped with sinks and flushable toilets, but no showers. Campsites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet, and there is a dump station on the property. RV hookups are not available.
: 90 Campsites
: Cottonwood Campground
Best Time to Visit Petrified Forest National Park for RV Camping
Photo credit: Scott Blake
Petrified Forest National Park is open year-round—perfect for explorers who are itching to get outdoors now and families planning a trip months from today! No matter the category you fall into, read this breakdown of Petrified Forest National Park seasons to learn what to expect.
Lace up your hiking boots—spring is the opportune time to explore Petrified Forest National Park. Humidity and cooler temperatures can make the weather moderately cold. However, by late spring, warm temperatures prevail, ranging from 79.9°F to 53.6°F.
Roam the backcountry on horseback or by foot during the spring. Tourism is slow during this season, so you’ll be less likely to encounter other adventurers.
Fill your canteen because the summer months in Petrified Forest National Park are unforgiving. Temperatures can get as high as 100°F under the blistering sun. The summer also marks the beginning of monsoon season, bringing thunderstorms and the possibility of floods.
Take your chances hiking through the national forest or take a guided tour to make use of the day’s cooler hours and see wildflowers bloom across the park. Entertain your young travel companions with the junior ranger program or paleontologist program. Junior rangers learn how to protect their national parks, and budding paleontologists learn about Earth’s history.
If you want solitude, tourism is slowest during fall at Petrified Forest National Park. Where summer temperatures are blistering, fall temperatures are pleasant, ranging between 78.5°F and 51°F. However, the mid-to-late November days may feel a bit chilly because of the wind and humidity.
Get up close and personal with the national park’s iconic feature—the petrified wood! The mild temperatures make hiking, biking, backpacking and horseback riding in Petrified Forest National Park ideal.
Bundle up and brave the desert winter in Petrified Forest National Park! The average high ranges between 53.6°F and 39.5°F.
The cool temperatures are perfect for hiking, but if the colder temperatures are not for you, consider a scenic drive through the national park. The main park road stretches on for 28 miles and is dotted with breathtaking viewpoints. Keep in mind that winter is a busy tourist season—traffic will be increased.
Things to Do in Petrified Forest National Park
Photo Credit: Jim Witkowski
Visitors enjoy the surreal landscape that adds a splash of color in the desert’s depths, but there’s more to explore in Petrified Forest National Park. Consider adding these things to do in Petrified Forest National Park to your itinerary.
Go on a treasure hunt through the southwest desert! Geocaches are hidden treasures found worldwide, including Petrified Forest National Park. Download the geocache smartphone app and challenge your traveling buddies
to find the most geocache items throughout the national park.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Petrified Forest National Park without a trip to Painted Desert Inn. The inn no longer serves as overnight accommodations. It is now a national historic landmark and the official museum of the national park. Stop by Painted Desert Inn to learn about its history and view Hopi artwork
Keep your binoculars and bird guide at the ready! Bird watching opportunities are abundant at the national park
. The park is home to as many as 216 bird species. The Painted Desert Rim Trail and the Painted Desert Visitor Center Plaza are the best spots for various bird species.
There are numerous hiking trails in the national park; however, if you want to travel off the beaten path, the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area is the place to go
. The designated Wilderness Area is protected land and valued for its natural, undeveloped and secluded qualities. Travel Billing Gap, take the round-trip hike to Dead Wash Overlook or purchase a permit and challenge yourself hiking through Devils Playground.
Tips on Visiting Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park itinerary? Check! RV campground reservation? Booked! You're almost ready to hit the road; however, before you go, check out these tips on visiting Petrified Forest National Park.
- Check closure dates. The national park has reduced hours or is closed on several federal holidays.
- Plan for the weather. Summer is the busy season, but it is also the rainiest because of the monsoon season.
- Review the park’s operating hours. Petrified Forest National Park is not open 24/7, and the operating hours vary by season. Before you set out on your day hike, make sure you have time to get back before the park closes for the evening.
- Reserve your hiking permit early. If you plan on visiting Devil’s Playground, you must have a hiking permit. Permits are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don’t show up late!
- Don’t take the petrified wood! The petrified wood is a sight to behold, so beautiful that it may be tempting to take a souvenir. There are several petrified wood shops in the area; leave the wood in the national park for other visitor’s enjoyment!
RV Rental for Petrified Forest National Park
Photo Credit: Instagram User @claudiarodriguespegoraro
Do you dream of spending a night under a sky full of stars or watching wildlife at its best?
If you want to embark upon an exciting road trip or a camping trip to enjoy the historic Petrified Forest National Park, Cruise America guarantees an exceptional RV camping experience.
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