Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, Arizona - Atlas Obscura
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Holbrook, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park

Discover fossils that are over 200 million years old in northeastern Arizona. 

Straddling the border between Navajo County and Apache County in the far northeastern corner of Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is about 146 square miles in size. The northern part of this site extends into the Painted Desert; the entire thing was declared a National Park in 1962, more than five decades after it was first named a National Monument in 1906.

Known for its fossils, especially those of fallen trees that first grew during the Late Triassic period of the Mesozoic Era more than 225 million years ago, the Petrified Forest is in a region that was once near the equator on the southwestern edge of the supercontinent Pangaea. Back then, its climate was humid and sub-tropical. The sediments that contain the fossilized logs are park of the colorful and widespread Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert first got its name.

There are no overnight spots or campgrounds available in the park, but nearby communities offer motels and other accommodations that visitors use. Overnight parking is not allowed, either, unless you have a wilderness hiking permit and are backpacking through the park.

Sightseeing options are offered for private motorcycles, automobiles, and hikers. The park road, turn-outs, and parking lots are big enough to accommodate large recreational vehicles such as tour buses and traditional RVs.

Know Before You Go

Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 (exit 311) and Highway 180 (exit 285).