Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Arizona Adventure Guide

Top 10 Things to do in Petrified Forest National Park

Things to do in Petrified Forest National Park

Top 10 Things in Petrified Forest National Park

Embark on a captivating journey through Petrified Forest National Park, where the top 10 experiences weave a rich tapestry of natural wonders and cultural gems. Begin at the Wigwam Motel on Route 66, immersing yourself in the nostalgia of teepee-shaped abodes that echo the cherished memories of road trips past. Delve into the ancient allure of Puerco Pueblo, a testament to ancestral Puebloan resilience, and marvel at over 650 petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock. Explore the transformative history of the Painted Desert Inn, discover the diverse offerings of the Painted Desert Visitor Center, and step into the past at Rainbow Forest Museum. Journey through the wonders of Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop, Agate House, Jasper Forest, and Agate Bridge, each offering a unique portal to Petrified Forest’s timeless landscapes and stories etched in stone.

Wigwam Motel

Embark on a nostalgic journey along Route 66, where the Wigwam Motel beckons with teepee-shaped abodes, each a gateway to cherished childhood road trip memories. Whether opting for the authentic charm of original Wigwams or the modern comforts of historic-inspired apartments, your stay becomes an immersive experience, weaving your story into the captivating history of this iconic roadside gem in Holbrook.

This isn’t just accommodation; it’s a timeless adventure, a celebration of Western U.S. culture, and an opportunity to create new memories in the hallowed halls of Wigwam Village #6. As you step into the past, you’re not merely a guest; you’re a participant in the living narrative of Route 66, where the spirit of the open road and the essence of bygone eras meld seamlessly into an unforgettable stay at the Wigwam Motel.

Puerco Pueblo

Delve into the intriguing history of Puerco Pueblo, an ancient village revealing the resilience and cultural richness of ancestral Puebloan people. With over 100 rooms, kivas, and a rectangular plaza, this archaeological site provides a glimpse into the daily life and ceremonial practices of a thriving community that once flourished along the Puerco River.

As you traverse the 0.3-mile loop trail, marvel at the petroglyphs that adorn the landscape, offering a fascinating window into the artistic expressions and spiritual beliefs of those who inhabited this pueblo. Puerco Pueblo stands as a testament to the challenges faced by ancient communities, emphasizing their ability to adapt and survive, leaving behind a captivating legacy etched in stone and petroglyphs within the captivating embrace of Petrified Forest National Park.

Painted Desert Inn

Step into the rich history of the Painted Desert Inn, a landmark that has evolved over nearly a century, witnessing the transformative beauty of the surrounding landscape. Originally crafted from petrified wood in the 1920s, the inn’s present adobe facade, a product of the 1930s renovation, echoes the enduring spirit of this desert oasis.

While the Painted Desert Inn no longer offers accommodations, its role as a museum immerses visitors in a journey through time, unveiling the stories of Route 66, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and showcasing captivating murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. Explore the inn’s enduring legacy as it stands as a testament to the intersection of art, history, and the ever-changing hues of the majestic Painted Desert.

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument

Embark on a journey through time at Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, where nature’s canvas comes alive with the ancient graffiti of the Southwest. This isn’t just a rock; it’s a gallery of over 650 petroglyphs, an open book written by the hands of ancestral Puebloan artists who once thrived along the mystical Puerco River. As you wander through this outdoor museum, the whispers of a bygone era beckon you to decode the cryptic messages left by generations past.

Immerse yourself in the mystery of these ancient “writers,” each stroke on the rockface a brushstroke in the epic saga of Puebloan life. Though the linear narrative eludes us, the petroglyphs tell a story rich in family symbols, spiritual revelations, and the rhythm of calendar events. Stand in awe, not just of the rock, but of the timeless connection between humans and the land, as Newspaper Rock invites you to unravel its enigmatic tales and connect with a cultural tapestry woven through the ages.

Painted Desert Visitor Center

Step into the enchanting realm of the Painted Desert Visitor Center, where Petrified Forest National Park beckons with more than iconic petrified logs. Discover a world of fossils, badlands, and ancient petroglyphs, whether you tread the maintained trails or venture into the backcountry, offering solitude and adventure under the vast Arizona sky.

Explore Petrified Forest’s diverse offerings, from archeological wonders to guided activities with rangers and cultural demonstrators. In the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area, backpacking becomes an immersive experience, promising solitude, colorful sunsets, and the awe-inspiring embrace of the night sky.

Rainbow Forest Museum

Journey into the historical heart of Petrified Forest at Rainbow Forest Museum, a site rooted in the park’s origin, dating back to President Roosevelt’s proclamation in 1906. Uncover the early chapters of this geological wonder through the museum’s lens, offering insights into the park’s evolution from a wood and tar paper shack to a vital headquarters, echoing the tales of its enduring significance.

Delve into the past at Rainbow Forest Museum, where the echoes of construction resonate through time, narrating the story of its transformation into a pivotal hub within Petrified Forest National Park. The museum stands as a testament to the commitment to preserving and sharing the rich history of this natural marvel, inviting visitors to connect with the roots of Roosevelt’s vision and the enduring legacy of Petrified Forest.

Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop

Step into a world of ancient wonders at Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop, where vibrant petrified wood, a testament to the Triassic Era’s grandeur, awaits. Immerse yourself in the allure of 225-million-year-old history, captured in every meticulously cut and polished piece, a unique creation from the heart of Arizona’s Petrified Forest.

Unleash your passion for the extraordinary at Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop, where the splendor of petrified wood intertwines with the magic of dinosaurs, meteorites, and more. From bookends to jewelry, each piece is a tangible relic of Earth’s prehistoric majesty, inviting you to take home a piece of ancient Arizona, where the echoes of the Triassic Era resonate in every splendid creation.

Agate House

Step into the past at Agate House, a remarkable Puebloan dwelling within Petrified Forest National Park, where the essence of ancient architecture is preserved in petrified wood. Dating back to around 900 AD, this eight-room pueblo stands as a testament to the ingenuity of its builders, who chose agatized wood and clay mortar to craft a unique structure, defying the conventional sandstone-and-mortar masonry of the region.

Explore the mystique of Agate House, a relic from the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods, reconstructed with dedication by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933-34. Feel the whispers of the past as you navigate through the reconstructed rooms, envisioning the lives of those who once called this petrified marvel home.

Jasper Forest

Embark on a journey to Jasper Forest, where the echoes of the historic First Forest-Eagle Nest Rock Road still linger, leading travelers through an ancient landscape adorned with an impressive accumulation of 216-million-year-old petrified wood. Despite the erosion claiming landmarks like Eagle Nest Rock and the Snow Lady, Jasper Forest invites explorers to rediscover the remnants of a bygone era along its storied Off the Beaten Path route.

Traverse the remnants of the past along the Jasper Forest Off the Beaten Path route, where the echoes of the historic First Forest-Eagle Nest Rock Road still linger. Closed in 1965 to protect the precious petrified wood, this trail offers a glimpse into the forest’s storied history and showcases the ongoing erosion of petrified log segments.

Agate Bridge

Embark on a journey through time as Agate Bridge, once Natural Bridge, weaves a tale of petrified elegance, spanning a gully at Agate Mesa. This iconic landmark, embraced by sturdy pillars and beams since the early 20th century, proudly echoes the footprints of early park visitors and stands as a testament to Petrified Forest’s rich history—a captivating symbol of nature’s endurance and artistry, suspended 16 feet above the canyon floor.

Immerse yourself in the time-honored allure of Agate Bridge, a historic gem meticulously preserved as the “most noted single petrified log in the world” by paleobotanist Lester Ward. Wander beneath its fossilized grandeur, letting the echoes of the past guide you through the heart of Petrified Forest, where nature’s artistry unfolds in every petrified fiber of this iconic bridge.

Top 10 Things to do in Petrified Forest National Park

As the sun sets over Petrified Forest National Park, the vibrant hues of the Painted Desert paint a stunning backdrop to conclude your exploration of this geological marvel. Whether you’ve marveled at the iconic petrified logs, traced the ancient petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, or wandered through the historic structures like Painted Desert Inn, the park’s allure lies in its ability to seamlessly blend natural wonders with cultural heritage. With each site, from Agate House to Jasper Forest, you’ve touched the essence of a timeless landscape, where the whispers of the past resonate through every petrified fiber, inviting you to become part of the ongoing story of Petrified Forest.

As you bid farewell to this enchanted land, remember that the top 10 experiences merely scratch the surface of Petrified Forest National Park’s treasures. The echoes of ancient cultures, the enduring beauty of petrified wood, and the vast landscapes that stretch beyond the horizon create a tapestry of memories that linger long after your visit. Petrified Forest is not just a park; it’s a journey through time, a celebration of nature’s artistry, and an invitation to discover the extraordinary within the ordinary rocks of an Arizona desert.


  • Posted in: