Get to Know: Petrified Forest National Park!

Photo Credit: NPS

Photo Credit: NPS

First off, what is a “Petrified Forest”?

No, it is not a forest that has been scared out of its wits – it is a place where you can walk back through time over 200 million years ago, a time where this region was not anything like it is currently. Petrified Forest National Park is located about 25 miles east of Holbrook, AZ and is a fascinating place full of geographically history and it is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world (other than Egypt, Argentina and even, North Dakota!)

The petrified logs were found here because at one time there was a large river system with tons of trees along its banks, and as the trees died, they were swept along the rivers to form “log jams”, which are some of the different ‘forests’ within the parks (Crystal Forest, Jasper Forest, etc) (National Park Service). Then, the area became covered with an ocean and the logs were underneath a ton of sediment. After that, the ocean disappeared and rivers flowed again that eroded the sediment that started to expose the landscape that we can see today. Well, that’s the short version – a Ranger can tell you a lot more about this process that takes millions of years! Don’t expect to see big tall trees while you are in the park, most of the pieces are cracked and broken into smaller chunks. But just because they are smaller pieces don’t try and lift one—they weigh a ton!

Photo Credit: National Park Guides

Photo Credit: National Park Guides

The petrified trees (coniferous, tree ferns and gingkoes) have been dated back to 218 million years ago…

The Park averages about 600,000 visitors a year – which makes it busy, but not as busy as some of the other National Parks in the surrounding states. The busiest time of year is in the summer months, but the winter allows visitors fantastic visibility and cooler temperatures (and less people in the parking lots – always a win!) Although you cannot camp within the park boundaries, the Park does offer some backpacking in the wilderness area for the more adventurous.

Note: There is a company called Xanterra that sells Petrified Wood from outside the park, which is legal and allowed. Their hope is to discourage people from stealing the wood from inside the park. Speak to the Rangers though – they will tell you stories about people returning the wood with letters of terrible things happening to them and their family after they took the pieces of wood and just had to return them!

But a bonus with this park, is the spectacular Painted Desert. Make sure to see it as the sun rises or sets, it is truly something to see! Deposits of clay and sandstone, stacked in layers display colorful radiance in the Arizona sun.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Google Images

Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Google Images

Important things to know about the Park –
• Driving travel time through the park is about 45 minutes
• Private vehicles cost $10 per vehicle (good for 7 days)
• Our fave spots: Painted Desert, Blue Mesa, Rainbow Forest, Giant Logs Loop
• Great list of things to do depending on how much time you have:

Check out this short video for some more information:

How many of you have checked out this awesome park? It’s also a great stop off if you are doing a Route 66 Road Trip!


Enjoy some photos from one of our recent hikes!

Guide Haydee says: “I took a recent group of mine on the exciting Angels Landing trail in Zion NP. What an adventure! Everyone had a fantastic day and the view was like no other. After climbing almost two miles of switchbacks, we hiked 1/2 on a ridge with sheer cliffs on both sides. Chains were required to climb to the overlook. It was so exhilarating and was a blast!”

Angel's Landing

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After spending 12 years in Southern California, Dennis was fortunate to move to Moab, Utah, his father’s hometown. He grew up with the Arches and Canyonlands as his backyard. Dennis spent many hours exploring the wonders of these parks. His career choice led him to become a Professional Land Surveyor. His background is in the Mining and Energy fields. This has enabled him to travel extensively in Southern Utah, working in all areas surrounding National Parks, Monuments and State Parks.

As Dennis’ family was growing up, they visited many of the scenic areas in the Western United States. Whether they were Camping, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Boating or operating all sorts of off road vehicles they were able to see all of what the West offers.

His passion for reading about History and learning more about Geology enhances his ability to appreciate what we have here in Utah and surrounding States. Go along for a ride, share in the past, go back in time, let Dennis share the beauty that lies upon the scenic byways, on and off the beaten paths.

Dennis with a group


Cyndi grew up in the Colorado Mountains, spending most of her youth exploring the great outdoors. She also raised her own family in Colorado and the Southwest, where being outdoors, playing sports and mountain activities like skiing, hiking and mountain biking were the main focus of their lives. After obtaining a Travel & Tourism Degree, she knew she had found her calling. Her vast expertise in the field includes; working for the Airlines, Tour Operators and Travel Agencies.

Cyndi’s Wanderlust has taken her many places including: Kenya and Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Hawaii, Canada, most of Europe and all corners of the United States. Her passion for exploration not only includes visiting these locals, but really learning the varying cultures and unique experiences they can offer.

After leaving the industry for a while, Cyndi knew she had to come back to her passion, so she enrolled and graduated from the International Guide Academy as a Certified International Tour Director. She has since come on board with Southwest Adventure Tours, guiding tours to the National Parks. Exploring all these wonderfully diverse areas, is a true pleasure which she loves to share with our clients. Her goal is to make your adventure memorable and have you leave with an even deeper appreciation of its National Parks, mountains, wilderness areas and rich history. Also, Cyndi can show you some of the area’s best eateries, a secondary passion of hers!