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Before arriving at Petrified Forest National Park, I had mostly heard that the place was relatively underwhelming and not worth going out of your way to visit. Since we were going to be driving right past it, however, we decided to stop by. And just like the Mojave Desert, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by just how much there was to see there.

Crystal Forest Trail

We started our visit off with a short hike along the Crystal Forest trail, which was easily accessible from the main road that works its way through the park. The name of the trail, of course, is pretty misleading. It is pretty much the farthest thing from a forest that there is. Long stretches of desert dotted with petrified wood were all that you could see for miles, save for one thin cliff breaking up the horizon.

Rock Formation and Logs Petrified Forest National Park Arizona USA.

I was actually surprised by just how interested I became in the petrified wood that was scattered around the park. The idea that this desert was at one point a lush forest was absolutely mind-blowing. And some of the pieces were just really beautiful.

Log Gem Grass Petrified Forest National Park Arizona USA.

Blue Mesa Loop

After getting our fill of petrified wood, we drove the Blue Mesa Loop and stopped at several viewpoints along the way to admire the badlands. This was probably my favorite part of the entire park. I probably stood and gazed out across the blue striped mesas in complete awe at how much our world has to offer us.

Blue Mesa Petrified Forest National Park Arizona USA.

Blue Mesa Trail 3 Petrified Forest National Park Arizona USA.

Painted Desert


Our final stop along the way was at the Painted Desert, which was actually relatively underwhelming. We had already seen so much red rock while driving across Arizona. It was still completely beautiful, of course, so we had to stop at a coup viewpoints along the way.

Red Rock Petrified Forest National Park Arizona USA.

All in all, I was really pleased with our short stop at Petrified Forest. I had no idea that there was so much to do there. I easily could have filled up a whole day there with hiking and exploring everything that the park has to offer!


Addie Gray is a recent college grad and a passionate solo female traveler. Having traveled to more than 20 countries, she now shares her knowledge on budget travel, solo female travel, and travel photography.


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