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Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

Petrified Forest National Park is a lonely exit off I-40 in eastern Arizona. A single road about 25 miles long leads from the north entrance to the south. We came here expecting to see lots of petrified wood, but were surprised how much more there is to be found.

PFNP badlands.jpg

Right off the bat there are incredible views of badlands, and an historic Harvey House restaurant called the Painted Desert Inn. People used to get off the train about 20 miles south and travel by car to stay at this rustic adobe inn at the edge of the cliff overlooking the badlands.

PFNP milk snake.jpg

Then we found a Native American pueblo dating from 600-800 years ago, with wonderful petroglyphs. While looking at those, a gorgeous milk snake came by (not venomous). We met a researcher in the parking lot who was studying snakes, so we took him over to the spot we last saw the snake. He already had a western diamondback rattlesnake in the car ...

A few miles further down, we finally began to see the remains of forests of large trees, fossilized and slowly emerging from the eroding cliffs. Emma spotted two jackrabbits, a hawk, a cottontail rabbit, and other creatures for her Junior Ranger project, to be turned in tomorrow.

PFNP trailer.jpg

We're boondocked just outside the park's south entrance tonight. We ran out of time this evening, so we'll head back about eight miles north to see the rest and do some hikes, before heading west to Sedona to meet up with Renee and Fred again.


Rich & family,

Nice photos.

You visit such interesting places. How do you find out about them on your travels?

Tim, we just listen to what people suggest, and try to guess what we'd like. Often just take a chance on an unknown. More often than not we find something interesting.

Hello Rich, Eleanor, & Emma -

A personal favorite spot of mine, and one I recommend to everyone that is going thru the general area (not close to much but not too far from the Petrified Forest/ Painted Dessert) is the Chaco Culture National Monument.

Very off the beaten path in Northwestern New Mexico, this is the site of some of the largest and most interesting Anasazi ruins in the Southwest. Also very interesting from an astronomy standpoint as it is apparently the location furthest from any light source but still in the continental US.

Worth the long dirt road and drive off the beaten path!

Learn more @


Awesome pictures. I can live vicariously through them. I just wanted to point out that the snake you saw was a "California Kingsnake" not a milk snake. They come in banded and striped varieties, that one was banded obviously.

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