Petrified Forest National Park
Mother-Daughter Roadtrip Day 2 was all about Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. This is really fantastic National Park you should consider visiting if you find yourself in the Southwest United States.
We started out the morning with some silliness. I saw these Dinosaurs on the side of the road and just had to get my picture taken with them. But it makes sense because we were on the way to Petrified Forest National Park where the petrified wood dates back to the Triassic Period when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
We stayed at the Lexington Inn in Holbrook, AZ about a 30 minute drive from the South gate of Petrified Forest National Park. Luckily it is free National Park Week because both Mom and I forgot our National Park passes. Otherwise, we would have had to pay the $20 entrance fee.
Selfie with some petrified wood at the entrance to the park.
The Visitor’s Center near the South Gate has two “hiking” trails to take visitors along a section with very large and colorful logs, including a log with the nickname Old Faithful. It is a big one.
The easy trail with Old Faithful is named Giant Logs Trail. It is only .4 miles and easy. The other trail here is Long Logs and is 1.6 miles roundtrip. It is also an easy hike but is slightly longer. Find out about all the hikes in the park here.
The Visitor’s Center itself had an 18 minute informative movie that revealed how the petrified wood, really a fossil, came to be. Basically, this is all ancient wood from the Triassic period that got washed away and buried under water, silt, ash, and more. The section of Arizona was actually a tropical rainforest at the equator back when Pangaea was a single continent. The fossilized wood found here is that old!!!!
Because the wood was buried and preserved plant material eventually turned into silica and other inorganic material. The different colors are formed by different minerals.
The results are awesome!
The second major spot to stop and see more petrified wood is in the Crystal Forest. This is a .75 mile roundtrip trail and is very easy.
My favorite stop in Petrified Forest National Park actually had nothing to do with petrified wood. The Blue Mesa Trail is a 1 mile, very difficult hike into the blue and purple badlands of the park.
You can drive to the lookouts and take photos if you are not a hiker or climb down all the way into the canyons.
While we were up at the top of the trail, the FedEx truck was there too. This was so weird. We are in the middle of nowhere.
The last stop we made in the South section was at Newspaper Rock, a Native American petroglyph collection between 600-2000 years old.
There was a hand print and geometric shapes among the 650 glyphs.
After Newspaper Rock we didn’t get out of the car again to hike anywhere, just pull over at some scenic viewpoints for some photos. I was super-hungry at this point and getting antsy.
The North Section of Petrified Forest National Park was not nearly as cool as the South section. But there was the very orange and red Painted Desert that made me think of Mars.
Petrified Forest National Park was a fantastic natural wonder and National Park. If you are ever in/near Phoenix, it is about a 4 hour drive and well worth spending the weekend exploring. Nearby Holbrook is a great spot to camp or spend the night on your adventure.
Our mother-daughter roadtrip continues tomorrow as we make our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stay tuned for more!