One interesting day in Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

I love the National Parks in the US. They truly are a treasure of this Nation and I am always grateful for the opportunity to visit one of them. We have been to 28 National Parks in the US so far and while we love some more than the others, each of them has something unique about themselves. In Feb 2021, we had the opportunity to visit Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and I was amazed how little I knew about this treasure which is less than 4 hours from where I live.

We entered the National Park from its southern entrance and our first stop was at the Crystal Forest Trail. It is only a 0.75 mile trail with an amazing collection of petrified wood logs, which are "wood turned to stone" over millions of years through petrification, and I just couldn't believe my eyes. The process of petrification, where silica enriched groundwater percolates through buried logs, replacing the organic molecules in the wood, and creating a replica in quartz over millions of years, is so fascinating. And the resulting petrified wood is immensely beautiful, extremely colorful and almost magical!

If you ever get a chance, I would highly recommend you to look at this marvel i.e. petrified wood, in person. But these are not the only interesting things in this Park. Our next stop was the Blue Mesa Trail. This is a 1 mile loop among the badland hills of bluish bentonite clay. The Blue Badlands with their "elephant-skin" surface are created by an interesting interplay between soft rock, water and bentonite clay through years of erosion.

Beneath the surface, an intricate maze of natural pipes and spaces form within the badlands. Clues to this hidden natural plumbing manifests on the face of the badlands as dimples in the ground, sinks, slumps and seeps. As erosion continues, caves and natural bridges can form as spaces are exposed.

Our last stop was at the Painted Desert Rim Trail. It is a 1 mile round trip trail along the rim with views of the Painted Desert.

We spent less than 3 hours in the Park but found it fascinating. It was quite cold the day we went and there were a couple of spots we missed such as Giant Logs and Newspaper Rock. If we get a chance to go again, I would also like to visit the gift shop at the southern entrance which my friends says, has a great collection of windchimes.

Hope you get a chance to visit and enjoy this National treasure too!


  1. I stumbled upon your post while searching for national park trips for my daughter’s school project. But then I lost track of the underlying reason behind it because I was so engrossed in reading your post. That picture with the gradient rugged wall and all the rocks and boulders looks so surreal. Even I discovered a new location today! Thank you for providing this information.

    1. I am so glad you found this helpful Monica. Appreciate you leaving a comment! It’s a bit of a drive from Phoenix but I definitely enjoyed it on a cool day!!


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