During a 3-day stint of driving across the USA, from North Carolina to California, we got a little tired (shocking, I know) and spontaneously decided to stop in Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park. And, you know how people often say that the best things in life come unexpectedly? I think this is definitely one of those cases.
Petrified Forest National Park is located in the aptly named town of Petrified Forest, Arizona, just about 40 miles west of New Mexico. What makes this park so spectacular is the fact that it houses petrified trees from a tropical forest that existed 225 million years ago. Yes, 225 MILLON. *Cue my existential crisis about time.*
Basically, during the Triassic period, Arizona was a lush, tropical rainforest brimming with plant and animal life. These animals included early dinosaurs, reptiles, and many other awesome creatures.
Over the past 200 million years, the continents shifted, climates changed, and rivers re-routed, burying these plants and animals under sediment. Then, winds and water have unearthed these artifacts and fossils, leaving us with these amazing petrified trees.
- Park fees! You have your choice of 4 passes:
- $20.00- For a 7-day auto pass
- $10.00- Per walking person and/or biking person
- $10.00- Per motorcyclist
- $30.00- Per unlimited annual pass
- The park hours vary based on the time of year, but it’s open during the summer from roughly 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day.
- You cannot camp in Petrified Forest National Park.
The park itself filled with stunning views, cliffs, rock formations, and, of course, petrified trees. As we entered the park we were instantly greeted by an expansive view of Arizona’s signature red rocks. As we continued our drive, the view continued to get more and more incredible, until we were eventually led to some of the larger “forests”. I say forests with quotes because there are no living trees in these forests, just the amazing, crystalized remains of trees from the past.
This was an unbelievable experience that I got to share with my husband and brother and I encourage you to go experience it with your loved ones!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Arizona is such a hidden gem of America and damn is it full of surprises.