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.

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

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

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

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

Van Life Painted Desert National Park LoveYouMoreToo

PIN for later

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


  • Reply 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!

  • Reply Mia July 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    OOoo, I will absolutely go visit – great blogpost!

    • Reply 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! 😀

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!


  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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 |

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply Sydney July 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

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

  • Reply Nicole July 16, 2017 at 8:31 pm

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

  • Reply Yolanda July 22, 2017 at 11:09 am

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

  • Reply Helen July 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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 🙂

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