Travel Van Life

Petrified Forest National Park

July 14, 2017
Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

Our final stop on our National Park road trip was Petrified Forest National Park. We spent a few hours driving from the south end of the park to the north, jumping out and snapping photos along the way. Here are some of the things we learned and where you can grab some epic photos.

About Petrified Forest

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Beautiful mountains of petrified wood are the cornerstone for the Petrified Forest. Unlike the other parks we visited, the gates and road at Petrified Forest open and close daily.  During the summer the park is open 7:00 am-7:30 pm, but that is plenty of time to enjoy the forest.

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Where to stay

There are no campsites or lodging inside the park, however you can backcountry camp with a free permit. You can also stay at one of the private campgrounds. Click here to read and get more information about backcountry camping.

What to do

Drive the park/hike

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We found the easiest way to get around and see everything is to drive the 28 miles from one end of the park to the other. Not only is the drive gorgeous, but there are plenty of parking lots and pullouts for you to stop and explore. Most of the sites are just off the road, but a couple of them require a short drive or hike.

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

The Rainbow Forest is closest to the south entrance and contains the Giant Logs. The whole walking trail is a .4 mile loop.

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Jasper Forest has some of the best views in the park.

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Blue Mesa and Blue Forest 3.5 mile loop drive off road

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The Painted Desert is north of highway 40 and has a variety of overlooks to give you views of the beautiful painted mountains.

Check out our other stops on our Van Life road trip, Big Bend National ParkMarfa, TexasJoshua Tree National ParkLos AngelesYosemite National Park, and King’s Canyon + Sequoia National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.  

Also, read more about Maeve, our 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia

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PIN for later

Have you been to the Petrified Forest? Will you visit? Leave me a comment below!

  • Jessica@HappilyHughes July 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Wow, this is just amazing, what a beautiful national park! I would love to see this park someday. Your photos are just breathtaking!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s a gorgeous park for sure.

  • Mia July 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    OOoo, I will absolutely go visit – great blogpost!

    • Mia July 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      PS. I just drove through Western Colorado this weekend and wanted to keep driving & head down to Arizona after I read this post! 😀

      • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

        Hopefully you get to see it soon. It’s breathtaking.

  • mummyonam July 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Absolutely stunning. Beautiful pictures, I need to up my photography skills! I wish we had places like that in England, I’d never be home!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Right?! It’s gorgeous. I wish I lived closer.

  • Perla Jacobs July 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    To answer your questions: No, I haven’t been to Petrified Forest and yes, I would very much like to visit it after seeing your beautiful photos. But I probably will not be around much, it’s not exactly my favorite landscape.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      It’s a great place to drive through for sure. Not my favorite climate/landscape either.

  • Mama in Heels July 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    You captured this place beautifully! We have to put this on our list for sure. Thanks for sharing!

    xo,
    Janise

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s really special.

  • Lavonnia AllisonBurres July 14, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    That forest has a lot of beauty to it. I would love to travel there some day when I don’t have to worry about the expenses of taking four children along. Your photos are very amazing to show the value, nature and very detailed.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      It really is beautiful. Thank you so much.

  • Glenda July 15, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Wow, the views at the Petrified Forest National Park are amazing! Also, the shots are so beautiful! Love your outfit too!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you! You are so sweet.

  • Afroza Khan July 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    OMG the pictures are incredible! Your pictures are really making me want to go on a road trip. I love to see places like these in person. It’s just so serene and the colors are beautiful!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you! It’s really spectacular.

  • Debbie Savage July 15, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I love that you incorporated a style outfit into this post! This is something I definitely want my kids to explore!
    xo Debbie | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Awh. Thank you! It’s really wonderful. You kids will love it.

  • David Elliott July 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    You look beautiful as always. And I have always wanted to make it out to that Petrified Forest. I have heard such cool things about it. Great you had an amazing trip.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Awh. Thank you. It’s really such a cool place.

  • Carol Cassara July 16, 2017 at 7:58 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever been here before. It would be awesome to explore and just take in the beautiful view! Each place in the park has a unique feature and is worth seeing!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Yes! It really is unique and beautiful.

  • Sydney July 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Wow this is just amazing, I love the photos!!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you so much, Sydney!

  • Nicole July 16, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    I would never think about visiting a petrified rainforest. The photos are beautiful.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you! We had a great time.

  • Yolanda July 22, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I love Petrified National Park! Your photos are just gorgeous.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Yolanda! It’s such a neat place.

  • Helen July 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, amazing pictures, this place looks so stunning but also a little bit creepy too!

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Yeah. It can be a little creepy. haha.

  • C-Ludik July 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Lovely photos, brought back memories ! I’ve visited Petrified Forest NP 3 years ago. I have been amazed by the size of the fossilized logs, the colorful formations, created by mixtures of iron, manganese, copper and quartz… a true delight for the eyes ! That I have almost forget the gorgeous landscapes of pastel colors, purple, white, blue and all imaginable gradations surrounding these fossils at Blue Mesa.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Yes!! It’s such a fantastic place. The colors are unbelievable for sure.

  • Victoria July 22, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, the scenery looks incredible there. Must admit I’ve not heard of Petrified Forest NP until now, but will be checking this out for my road trip 🙂

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      You should! It’s so fun!!

  • Kathleen July 23, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Ah, we loved our trips, yes plural, to the Petrified Forest and Painted Dessert. We took our kids when they were fairly young. We did lots of hiking and we each found a rock, took a picture of the rocks and hid them under another rock. Then we went back about 5 years later and found the rocks, took another picture and hid them again. I wonder if we will ever get back to see them, now that the kids are all grown. Your photos are beautiful. I especially love the one on top of the bus.

    • Jessica July 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      Yes!! We will have to go back for sure. I love that idea- kind of like a scavenger hunt. That sounds so fun!! Thank you so much.