16/59 – Petrified Forest National Park | 09.21-22.16

Petrified Forest is the only park I personally hadn’t visited on this trip (and one of only two parks this year that are new to me). I’ll admit it, I kept my expectations as low as possible, completely intentionally. And that was a good idea! Petrified Forest is a pretty crazy park, but the beauty is in the details.

We spent pretty much the entire day driving along the road from south to north, and stopping at all of the sites along the way. Most of the trails are paved, and pet friendly! We were wishing we could’ve had our dog.

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We camped for free at this hilarious place outside of the south entrance of the park. It was such an experience! I love finding tiny little hidden gems like this.

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I don’t know about you, but I think I could probably do a better triceratops than this one. Hahahaha.

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I loved how you could see the bark and the wood petrified separately.

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It’s so interesting to imagine how this area must have looked when it was a lush rainforest and the trees were all living.
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This log was so long!! Over 130 feet!

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There are so many different faces of this park. There were several different places we stopped that had a different look and feel than the previous part! I thought the dark purple bands of these mesas were gorgeous.

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We made a stop at Newspaper Rock, which had some seriously amazing petroglyphs!

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We thought this petroglyph at Puerco Pueblo was really interesting. Most archaeologists are pretty sure that the bird is carrying a frog in its mouth, but this area now is desolate and dry. It’s crazy to think that this was once a marsh full of animals!

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After Puerco Pueblo I realized I’d been silly and missed Agate House way back at the beginning of the park… thankfully the park is fairly small and we had the whole day, so we just turned around and went back!

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Agate House was actually rebuilt by the CCC in the 40s, and they added a window that wouldn’t have been there originally- but I appreciated it for the photos!

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Petrified wood as far as the eye can see!

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Huge log!

After Agate House we headed back to the other end of the park and the Painted Desert. On the way there we stopped at a little memorial for Route 66, which once passed through the area.

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Take ALLLLL the road trip photos!!

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We got our kicks, that’s for sure.

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At the end of the day we headed into the backcountry in the Painted Desert. This was absolutely, without a doubt, the best part of this trip. The park was pretty cool, but the backpacking really sealed the deal. We didn’t see another human for probably about 15 hours. We had been a little concerned about the weather due to the rain the previous day in Grand Canyon, and it did actually rain on us a bit as we were hiking in, but the clouds moved quickly and made for some INCREDIBLE photos (hellooooo double rainbow!)!

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We hiked to the Onyx Bridge, which was actually a bit hard to find. I was grateful to have the GPS coordinates for it! It was pretty dark once we got there, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there.

After night fell, I took a few night shots. The Milky Way looked pretty amazing!

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Ah, the STARS!!! They were so incredible. Seriously. It was blowing my mind.

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The next morning we hiked out through the wash, which made things a lot more easy.

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Stegosaurus Rock!! Hahaha.
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Remnants of an old bridge from when this was still farm land.

At the end of the day, I’m so glad we visited this park, but it would not have been the same experience without the backpacking “trip.” It’s so secluded and quiet, even during the day. It’s definitely a park worth seeing!

Our Petrified Forest National Park “Must Do”:

Head into the backcountry in the Painted Desert, even for just a night! The stars are amazing, and it’s so peaceful and quiet.

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