Petrified Forest National Park to Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon

Petrified Forest National Park is located in Northeastern Arizona off I-40 within the heart of the Painted Desert.  Holbrook is the closest town, while the nearest major cities are Phoenix, AZ and Albuquerque, NM. Although the main draw of Petrified Forest is its 200-million-year-old multi-hued petrified wood, there is also an abundance human history and other natural wonders within this desert landscape. Petrified Forest National Park sees an average of 600,000 visitors each year with many of those visitors arriving during the high summer tourist season in the US. Read the guide below to learn more.

Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon Travel

Driving Distance from Petrified Forest, AZ to Grand Canyon

  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon North Rim is 112 miles, a 2 hour 20-minute drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon East Rim is 111 miles, a 2 hour 5-minute drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon South Rim is 241 miles, a 4 hour 15-minute drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon West Rim is 285 miles, a 4-hour 50-minute drive.

Petrified Forest, AZ to Grand Canyon Car Rentals

Petrified Forest Car Rentals: No car rental agencies are available at Petrified Forest.  There are car rentals available in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Albuquerque and other nearby cities.

Petrified Forest Shuttles: There are no shuttles to Petrified Forest.

Grand Canyon Tours from Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

There is a lot more to do at Petrified Forest than just look at petrified wood.  Petrified Forest National Park offers maintained trails, as well as backcounty hiking for people who want to stretch their legs.  There is also a large array of archeological sites including pictograph panels, prehistoric and historic ruins.  Visitors can also enjoy horseback rides; guided ranger talks and cultural demonstrations.

Best Restaurants at Petrified Forest, AZ and on the drive to Grand Canyon

If you need something to eat at Petrified Forest there is a restaurant next to the Painted Desert Visitor Center, as well as a convenience store for snacks.  Holbrook is the closest towns with more options for food and drink.

Best Hotels at Petrified Forest, Arizona near Grand Canyon

There are no hotels located in Petrified Forest National Park.  The closest accommodations are in Holbrook, Winslow and Flagstaff Arizona, as well Gallup New Mexico where you can find accommodations fairly close to the park.  Backcountry Camping is available in the Park, but the closest RV sites are in Holbrook.  There are also several State Parks, and primitive campsites nearby.

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Learn More About Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest is a desert environment with only 9-10 inches of rain a year.  Summer temperatures are hot and dusty with highs reaching the mid 90’s, but monsoon rains make dramatic skys in this desert landscape.  Spring and fall bring the best weather on the Colorado Plateau and Petrified Forest is no exception. Warm days and cool nights, are especially nice for people who want to get out and hike.  Winter temperatures may be cool, but days are usually sunny and you can have the whole park to yourself. The entry fee for Petrified Forest is $10 per vehicle.  There is no campground within Petrified Forest National Park, but backcountry camping permits within the Park are free.

  • Environment of Petrified Forest: Petrified Forest National Park lies within the Painted Desert and comprises and area of about 93,500 acres.  Painted Desert National Park is an area of Badland, buttes, mesas, and strange rock formations, a rough and rugged land of stark beauty.  Comprised primarily of the Chinle formation the park is full of fossils and unique geological formations including 200-million-year old petrified wood.  During the summer season heat can be a real danger at Petrified Forest.  It is very important to stay hydrated, wear sun block and get out of the sun when the temperature is just too hot.  Although you probably won’t see one there are some resident rattlesnakes so be aware.
  • Petrified Forest Plants and Animals: Petrified Forest has a surprising amount of life for such a harsh desert landscape.  Mice, rabbits, and even larger animals like Pronghorn are found throughout the park.  Both migrating and resident bird can be spotted in Petrified Forest, as well as a large array of sun loving reptiles.  This area even has seven species of amphibians, some of which burrow under the ground for up to nine-month until rainfall wakes them from their slumber.   Plants within Petrified Forest National Park are mainly composed of grasses, lichens and wildflowers, with grasses being the foundation of this ecosystem.  Several species of cacti and a few hardy trees like juniper are also found in the Petrified Forest.
  • Petrified Forest Culture and History: Although human history in Petrified Forest National Park goes back 13,000 years, the first human settlements date back to about 500 A.D. during the Basket Maker II period.  These people farmed these arid lands, and built year-round settlements, and trade routes.  Small bands of Navajo, Paiute and Zuni also roamed this land, but there is no evidence that they had permanent settlements.  Europeans first came to this area in the 1540’s and buy the 1800’s several ranchers had settled in and around the park.  Petrified Forest was first protected as a National Monument in 1906.

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