Go RVing to Petrified Forest National Park
They say you can’t go back in time. But there is one place that can make you feel like you’ve been transported back to prehistoric times—the Petrified Forest National Park. A bizarre, multicolored landscape that resembles outer space. Rent an RV and explore this stretch of land in Arizona, where ancient forests turned into crystal rock, and herds of dinosaurs left their footprints.
The park is a wonder unlike any other, with attractions ranging from fossilized wood, colorful geological formations, Native American sites to ancient rock art. For RVers, the long winding roads, the picturesque landscapes, and the peaceful solitude are enough to get you excited. And if you don’t own a rig, check out our RV rental marketplace and find yourself the perfect deal.
A Brief History of Petrified Forest National Park
Commonly referred to as the painted forest, this national park is found in Northern Arizona, where it sits on 220,000 acres of multicolored badlands. The park is home to one of the largest petrified wood deposits in the world. More than two hundred million years ago, this dry land was filled with towering green trees and flowing rivers. When the trees fell into the waters, they absorbed large amounts of minerals which replaced the wood tissue.
Millions of years later, the rivers dried up and exposed the wood rocks tinted in rainbow hues. The fractured logs are now scattered throughout the park. More recently, the park’s landscape has been home to humans for over 13000 years, and there are more than 600 archeological sites that reveal a lot about our prehistoric ancestors. This piece of American heritage became a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962.
Why Visit Petrified Forest National Park in Your Rental RV?
This moonscape terrain is the perfect destination for RV adventurers. It has a network of paved roads and spacious pullouts, and there is a parking space near every major attraction. Most RVers love the idea of driving to each of the park’s highlights, taking a brief hike to the viewpoint, and returning to the comfort of their rig for shade and a snack before driving off to the next spot.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Petrified Forest National Park in an RV?
RVers can visit the park any time of the year. Summer temps range between 90 to 100 F, while winters can freeze. Winter trips are great, but generally, the best time to visit is around spring and fall when the temperatures are mild and there is little rainfall. Still, the park’s weather is so variable, so it’s essential you pack some layers.
Getting to Petrified Forest National Park in a Rental RV
So, how do you access this otherworldly destination? Petrified Forest is nestled midway between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona. You can rent an RV in Albuquerque and drive 210 miles to the park. From Flagstaff, it’s 115 miles away. If you yearn for the ultimate road trip adventure, book an RV in Phoenix and take a three-and-a-half-hour road drive to the Petrified Forest.
What to See and Do in Petrified Forest National Park
Start at the Painted Desert Visitor Center
To get psyched up for the trip, start your tour at the Visitor Center. It has an educational orientation film, incredible exhibits, a gift shop, and even petrified wood for sale. Here, you‘ll also get detailed information on the lay of the land.
Get a Taste of the Desert’s Rich History
The park is home to the famous Painted Desert Inn. Built nearly 100 years ago, it was once a hotel and restaurant, hosting travelers passing through Route 66. The place is now a National Historic Landmark used to preserve history. You can wander through the mural art created by a famed Hopi artist.
Watch Some Ancient News
Of the 600 archaeological sites that have been found within Petrified Forest’s boundaries, the one that truly stands out is the Newspaper Rock. It boasts 650 petroglyphs, or rock carvings, painted by the Puebloan people around 600 to 2000 years ago. Hike a short trail that leads to an overlook of this spectacular Rock.
Appreciate The Painted Desert
The painted desert is a vast area stretching from the east of Grand Canyon National Park eastward into the northern part of Petrified Forest National Park. Colored in red, orange, brown, and purple hues, this dry but vibrant landscape is a fascinating natural wonder. The Rim Trail offers the best views.
Check Out The Mother Road
Petrified Forest is the only national park in America that’s home to a section of Old Route 66—a road linking the east to the wild west. Although the highway of dreams is no more, there is a lot that announces its presence—highway signs, old telephone poles, and an old roadbed. Here, you’ll find Old Studebaker, a famous rusty old car body.
Lace Your Boots and Hike the Long Logs and Giant Logs Trails
Most petrified logs lie in the southern part of the park. If you have time, head to Giant Logs Trail, where you’ll get awed by the massive logs. Don’t stop there. Hike the Long Logs Trail and be amazed by logs that measure up to 180 feet long. Other notable trails are the sparkled Crystal Forest and Mesa Trail, which leads to a blue-hued moonscape.
Visit A 700-Year-Old Home
Near the Southern entrance of the park is the Agate House—an ancestral Puebloan building crafted entirely out of petrified wood. It was built over 700 years ago, but it is still in great condition. Leave your RV in the parking lot and hike the 2-mile round trip to check out its eight rooms.
Best RV Campgrounds in Petrified Forest National Park
Although there aren’t any camping options inside the park, RVers can choose from a variety of campgrounds located within touching distance. We’ve combined a list of some of the best RV campgrounds around.
● Holbrook / Petrified Forest KOA – It’s one of the most conveniently located campgrounds in the area, and it has 126 campsites. It sits 10 minutes away from the southern side of the park. It offers full hookups, a pool, free WiFi, and lots of family-friendly activities.
● Homolovi Ruins State Park – It’s just an hour’s drive away from the park, and visitors love it for its open spaces and clean facilities. You’ll get to enjoy electric hookups, a dump station, and running water.
● Lyman Lake State Park – Around 50 miles away from the national park, this campground offers full hookups, restrooms, and a store. You’ll also get some breathtaking views of Lyman Lake.
Petrified Forest: A Moonscape Worth Escaping To
If you are looking to get away from it all and explore a place with an aura of days gone by, head to Petrified Forest National Park. Here, you’ll be awed by the beautifully colored terrain, mysterious sparkly wood, and well-preserved prehistoric sites. And why not tour the park in the comfort and convenience of a rental RV, travel trailer, or even a vintage Airstream?