Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert


painted desert Petrified Forest kids viewThe Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona (which also contains the Painted Desert) is right on Route 66 so no need to head too far off from where you are for this sight.

And what a sight it was!

It was an overcast day for us, the first on our trip really, which meant on the upside that it wasn’t overly hot for exploring, but on the downside it meant that we didn’t see the desert at it’s best.  I could see the colours would be magnificent on a sunny day.

The Petrified Forest National Park (why does this always sound like I’m going in to a Harry Potter book?) is huge and there’s a road that you follow round which takes you to the main scenic views and points in the park.


petrified forest arizona new mexico

There are a few visitor centres in the park – one as you arrive which has a large shop, cafe and some exhibits.  This one  is called the Painted Desert Inn and is a typical building style of the area.  This is actually an old stopping point on Route 66!


petrified forest national park kids

Inside the kids collected some ‘souvenirs’ in the form of stamps and we also learned that we could even become junior rangers at the park!  This seemed fun, even to me as they said there was no age limit to being a junior ranger!


route 66 sign petrified forest arizona


There was plenty of mentions of the mother road in this part of the park – it really did feel like it was an era gone by, never to return again with rusty cars left as a monument to the time.

old car rusty petrified forest new mexico route 66


Towards the end of the park there is the Rainbow Forest Museum and another visitors centre.  We asked about the Junior Ranger programme and were given a workbook to complete.  If we completed it and could take the oath at the end we could become Junior Rangers!

Outside there were many, many bits of petrified wood and logs, some were huge!

petrified forest logs



After learning lots of about the logs and about the area, we headed back in to see if we made the grade and could become Junior rangers – the Park Ranger asked us lots of questions and finally asked us to take an oath to look after nature and the State Parks.

junior park ranger

Yup – even I got to become a Junior Ranger – I was incredibly proud of this!


Overall we loved our visit here and highly recommend it – such a beautiful place!

Getting to the Petrified Forest

petrified forest painted desertThe Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are based in Arizona and is on Interstate 40.  If you’re travelling Route 66 you’ll not miss it!  For more information about the State Park check out their site.


The nearest town on the West side is Holbrook where you can stay in a wigwam at the Wigwam Motel.
A visit to the Petrified Forest needs at the very least a few hours – you don’t need to be fit and you can see lots even without hiking.


Cost – the cost for one car was $20.  This covers you for a 7 day period if you want to spend more time there.  Becoming a Junior Ranger was free!!

Petrified Forest painted desert national park


Interested in Route 66?  Check out my other posts:

Finding the Mother Road and our journey on Route 66 begins!

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Exploring Route 66 in Texas

New Mexico on Route 66

Route 66 on a budget – how we kept costs down

Route 66 to Grand Canyon


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