grand canyonRoad Trip from Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest National Park to Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Petrified Forest National Park is located in Northeastern Arizona off I-40 within the heart of the Painted Desert a few hours from the Grand Canyon, making it a great stop for a road trip.  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. If you're traveling to the Grand Canyon, including a visit to Petrified Forest is a great addition to your trip. Read the guide below to learn more.

Travel Information, Tours and Lodging

Driving Distance from Petrified Forest, AZ to Grand Canyon

  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon North Rim is 310 miles, a 5 hour drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon East Rim is 226 miles, a 3 hour 25-minute drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon South Rim is 203 miles, a 3 hour drive.
  • Petrified Forest to Grand Canyon West Rim is 332 miles, a 5 drive.

Grand Canyon Tours from Petrified Forest National Park

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. Check out our list of recommended attractions near Petrified Forest to add to your trip.

Best Hotels near Petrified Forest, AZ 

There are no hotels located in Petrified Forest National Park.  The closest accommodations are in Holbrook, Winslow and Flagstaff Arizona, or Gallup if you're coming from or headed to New Mexico.  You can see some popular nearby lodging here. 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.

Area Car Rental Options

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.

Closest Airports to Petrified Forest

The majority of visitors traveling to Petrified Forest fly into Phoenix or Albuquerque, which are the closest international airports.  Flagstaff, AZ is less than a 2-hour drive and also has a small airport with daily flights, although the cost is typically quite a bit higher than Phoenix or Albuquerque.

Best Restaurants and Dining Options

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.

Weather and Climate

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 sky's 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.

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Recommended Attractions near Petrified Forest

Grand Canyon Tour from Flagstaff or Sedona

Duration: 11 hours
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $185 on Viator

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Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

Duration: 8.5 hours
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $208 on Get your guide

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Grand Canyon Railway Train Tickets

Duration: 8 hours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
from $124 on Viator

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45-minute Grand Canyon South Rim Helicopter Flight

Duration: 45 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $279 on Viator

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Popular hotels near Petrified Forest

Learn More About Petrified Forest

If you're up for a road trip from Grand Canyon National Park, or are passing Petrified Forest on your way to the canyon this is a beautiful and unique place to stop and visit. 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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