Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Explore the Natural Wonders and Mysteries
Grand CanyonConsidered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles long. The steep canyon -- managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation and the Havasupai Tribe -- was carved over millions of years by the Colorado River in Arizona. 960 1280
Cathedral Rock, Sedona, ArizonaOne of the most-photographed sights in Arizona, Cathedral Rock is a must-see stop if you’re taking an RV road trip through America’s Southwest. We recommend visiting Red Rock Crossing at Oak Creek in Sedona for the best view of this amazing rock formation. 960 1280
Bright Angel TrailGo hiking! Bright Angel Trail is the safest trail in Grand Canyon National Park. Hikers can camp out at Indian Garden and Bright Angel Campground. This hiking trail has portable drinking water at the 2 campsites, Three-Mile Resthouse and Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse. And if hikers should ever need them, a ranger presence and emergency phones are located along the trail. 960 1280
Grand Canyon Railroad DepotHop on a train to explore Grand Canyon National Park’s natural beauty. Take a step back in time as authentic characters and musicians bring the Old West to life on a Grand Canyon Railway train ride. Constructed between 1909 and 1910, the Grand Canyon Depot (pictured) was designed by American architect Francis W. Wilson. It is one of 14 log depots constructed in the US. 960 1280
North RimBegin your grand journey here! The North Rim, located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake on Highway 67, is the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. We recommend guests plan ahead. Visitor lodging, food services and the road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim are open from mid-May to mid-October. 960 1280
North Kaibab TrailA parking area is located on State Route 67, about a mile north of the North Rim’s Grand Canyon Lodge, for visitors to start their hike on 3 different trails, including the Ken Patrick Trail and the Uncle Jim Trail. The North Kaibab Trail (pictured) is also accessible from the parking area. This trail begins at the head of Roaring Springs Canyon and ends at the Colorado River. 960 1280
Grand Canyon Camper VillageLooking for the best spot to camp in the Grand Canyon? Head to Grand Canyon Camper Village, located a mile south of the park entrance on Highway 64 in Tusayan, AZ. This campground offers a convenient camping location for RVs, trailers and tents. The campground also has an IMAX theater, general store, restaurants, shopping and park shuttle stops all within walking distance. 960 1280
Colorado River RaftingSet your course for adventure on a white-water rafting trip down the Colorado River. Thrill-seekers have their pick of various commercial to non-commercial river trips that range from a half-day to a 25-day trip. Experience the scenic wonder and adrenaline rush on this adventure of a lifetime. 960 1280
Grand Canyon SkywalkGet awe-inspiring views from the Grand Canyon Skywalk, owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe. The transparent-horseshoe bridge operates like a conveyor belt, providing tourists with great vantage points to gaze at the majestic canyon from 4,770 feet above the Colorado River. 960 1280
Rim TrailPlan a day of hiking on the Rim Trail, located on the North/South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Hikers can start their trek from any viewpoint in Grand Canyon Village or along Hermit Road. The trail stretches 13 miles from South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermit’s Rest. Make sure you pack water before you start this hiking trail. Water is available at the beginning and end of the trail. 960 1280
A Great Grand Canyon Adventure 13 Photos
On a quiet day in the desert of Arizona, traipsing among the vast spread of logs and tree trunks that time has turned to stone and emblazoned with color, having the feeling of entering a land before time is inevitable. While there's nothing scary about Petrified Forest National Park, there is certainly something mysterious and wondrous. Perhaps it's the mystery of how this sea of petrified wood was created, or imagining the enormous reptiles that once grazed across this land - some weighing up to 2 tons! Regardless of the means, capturing the magic of the park is simple, by way of trails wind through the park in a maze of colored stone, natural log bridges and sprawling vistas.
The largest logs in the park can be found in the Giant Forest Area, where "Old Faithful" - at 9' wide, the largest park log - can be found. Visitors searching for more than wood will be pleasantly surprised by the Painted Desert Area of the park, where the topography changes to Badlands and the colored Blue Mesa Area and TeePee Land Formations are found. Also of interest are the Puerco Indian Ruins and Petroglyphs, dating back to 1000 A.D., and which appear to act as solar calendars.
The flora of the park is typical of a desert climate, rich with cacti, yucca and cottonwood trees. Sixteen varieties of lizards and snakes call the park home, and include the ubiquitous collared lizard and the western rattlesnake - the park's only poisonous snake. One unusual inhabitant of the park is the kangaroo rat, which drinks no water, instead gaining equal nutrition by digesting seeds in their cheek pouches. Visitors with keen eyes may even be privy to a pronghorn sighting - reaching speeds of 60 mph, it's the fastest mammal in North America.
The petrifying of trees began about 250 million years ago, when the ancient trees - similar to coniferous trees - first existed, and were knocked down, most likely by severe flooding. With the trees covered by water, sediment began to cover the trunks and minerals from the water seeped into the pores of the wood. Volcanic ash later fell on top of the sediments. Groundwater eventually dissolved the ash, which soaked through the wood, replacing the wood cells and solidifying into quartz. Over time, uplift and erosion created the landscape of petrified wood we see today.
Before exploring the sea of petrified wood and prehistoric rock carvings in the park, a trip to the Rainbow Forest Museum is in order. At the museum, visitors will be exposed to the telling of the Petrified Forest's history complete with fossilized bones and reconstructed skeletons of long extinct reptiles. One unusual exhibit features hundreds of pieces of petrified wood that have been stolen and returned (complete with apologetic notes) to the park. Beyond the museum area, the Long Logs Trail takes visitors to the Agate House, constructed by Indians in the 16th century using only petrified wood.
Where to Stay
The Wigwam Motel on famed Route 66 is 1950s Americana kitsch at its finest. Built in the 1950s, the motel is actually a semi-circle of enormous teepees born from lumber, chicken wire and stucco, swathed in neon lights and oozing the same lure they held 50 years ago, when the restless souls of America took to Route 66 in an endless series of pilgrimages. The teepees feature double beds, bathrooms, even TVs - but more importantly a taste of the heartbeat that once pulsed across America.
Nearby Sights/Side Trips
Too many travelers pass off Flagstaff, Ariz., as merely a place to sleep en route to the Grand Canyon. This means too many travelers have overlooked one of Arizona's quaintest gems. Flagstaff is a town full of life, thriving since its inception as a railroad town many decades ago. Today, the town features a bustling historic district, rich with artisans' galleries, classic Arizona mineral and rock shops and a delightful array of restaurants, bistros and breweries. The town is also home to a university that helps support a lively nightlife. The Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum, the Arboretum at Flagstaff and the Lowell Observatory will sate visitors on a quest for culture.