Petrified Forest National Park was established first as a national monument on December 8, 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. It was later designated as a national park on December 9, 1962. With 221,390 acres, this national park is home to hundreds of plants, animals, historical sites, and most notably the largest concentration of petrified wood in the world. According to the National Park Website, there are over 10,000 years of human history found in this park with over 800 archeological sites. In addition to this rich history, the park also crosses over a segment of the historic Route 66 alignment. As you drive the length of this desert landscape, you will get to see varying layers of geologic formations and colors. As it is “part of the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest National Park features a strangely beautiful landscape. Erosion has sculpted and shaped intriguing landforms, revealing a treasure trove of fossils within multi-colored layers.” To avoid the desert heat, plan your trip in the winter, early spring, or late fall.
Top Photography Locations and Sights at Petrified Forest National Park:
As photographers, we know that many of you will only have one chance in a lifetime to visit the National Parks. To make your life easier, we have compiled a list of our top photography locations and sights at Petrified Forest National Park! While this is not comprehensive, and there are many more amazing sights to see, it should give you a good feel for the park.
- Painted Desert Visitor’s Center
- Painted Desert Rim Trail (1 mile hike)
- Tiponi Point
- Tawa Point
- Kachina Point
- Chinde Point
- Pintado Point
- Nizhoni Point
- Whipple Point
- Lacey Point
- Route 66
- Puerco Pueblo (.3 mile hike)
- Newspaper Rock
- The Tepees
- Blue Mesa (1 mile hike)
- Agate Bridge
- Jasper Forest
- Crystal Forest (.75 mile hike)
- Long Logs (1.6 mile hike)
- Agate House (2 mile hike)
- Giant Logs (.4 mile hike)
- Rainbow Forest Museum & Visitor’s Center
Map of Petrified Forest National Park:
In order to protect its natural resources, in the winter, the Petrified Forest opens at 8 am and closes strictly at 5 pm. You must be in your car leaving the park at closing time. This makes sunrise and sunset landscape photographs nigh impossible. That said, the late afternoon sun transforms the colors in the landscape and is still worth photographing. (Note: Operating hours may vary throughout the year – check the National Park Website for construction, time changes, and the like).
- Background information: National Park Service
- Featured Photo Credit: Petrified Forest National Park, Vezzani Photography
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