Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is located in the northern part of the US State of Arizona, fifty-five miles west of the border with the State of New Mexico.
Covering 93,533 acres of grasslands and high desert plateau, it includes spectacular views of the Painted Desert.
The high desert plateau 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 (4.4°C).
The terrain includes the incredibly beautiful badlands of the Painted Desert, a grand variety of geological formations, and arrays of richly colored petrified wood ranging in size from gigantic logs lying on the ground to hints of logs poking out from conical-shaped hills, to very small chunks scattered across the terrain.
Over the past 2,000 years, there have been separate occupations, a cultural transition from wandering families to settled agricultural villages, pueblos, and trading ties with neighboring villages.
This story of early people, told by potsherds, rubble, and petroglyphs on the rocks, fades around 1400 AD. In fact, there is evidence of human use/occupation for 10,000 years.
In the mid-1800s, US Army mappers and surveyors came into this area and carried back east stories of the remarkable “Painted Desert and its trees turned to stone.”
Next, farmers, ranchers, and sightseers made their ways into the area.
After a period of using the wood for souvenirs and numerous commercial ventures, territorial residents recognized that the supply of petrified wood was not endless.
Petrified Forest was set aside as a national monument in 1906 to preserve and protect the petrified wood which scatters the area.
In 1932, about 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) more of the Painted Desert were purchased and added to the monument.
In 1962, the area became Petrified Forest National Park. In 1970, an area of 20,250 hectares (50,000 acres) was further set aside as wilderness.
The park also protects the diverse Triassic ecosystem and significant archaeological sites representing several cultures over several thousand years of occupation.
See map of the park.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)