With only a half-day in the park on our first day, we knew we wouldn’t have time to do everything in Petrified Forest National Park, but we did get to experience a surprising variety of sights in a short amount of time.
- We started at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center and stopped in Rainbow Forest Curios and Fountain to check out the souvenirs and snack bar.
- We walked the short Giant Logs Trail for our first up close views of stunning petrified wood specimens and the huge Old Faithful log, as well as sweeping views of the desert badlands.
- We explored the paved Crystal Forest Trail, with some of the most beautiful petrified wood pieces that we saw in the entire park.
- We relaxed at the Jasper Forest Overlook, taking in the incredible beauty of the colorful desert landscape below.
- We also stopped by the Agate Bridge, Newspaper Rock to see petroglyphs, and the old rusty 1932 Studebaker where Route 66 came into the park.
Agate Bridge features sweeping views and a 110 foot long petrified log bridge spanning a gully.
To be honest, this wasn’t one of the most amazing stops in Petrified Forest because of human meddling.
Originally, the massive petrified log sat on the ground, but centuries of flood waters and erosion washed out the gully beneath the petrified log to form a natural agate bridge. That would have been amazing to see!
But in 1911, visitors and conservationists, afraid the agate bridge would collapse, reinforced the fallen petrified tree with concrete. Masonry pillars supported the long petrified log for six years until the concrete slab that exists today was installed. Now the Agate Bridge isn’t really an Agate Bridge, but a petrified log laying on top of a concrete bridge.
We did however have a lot of fun exploring the washed out gully beneath the Agate Bridge and the sandstone formations that surround it, as well as the incredible views from the cliffs.
Know Before You Go
- Agate Bridge at Petrified Forest National Park is located north of the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center on Park Road in Arizona’s Apache County.
- Download the Petrified Forest National Park Map.
- Petrified Forest National Park actually closes! The park is open daily year-round from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. When staff permits, extended hours go into effect from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm — and they’re not kidding. The park gates actually close and rangers drive the main park road around 4:30 telling you to wrap it up and start heading out of the park.
- The Petrified Forest landscape is an extremely dry, high altitude desert so pack lots of water, even for short day hikes, to avoid heat exhaustion.
- Petrified Forest is one of the most animal friendly national parks. You can bring your leashed pet any place you are allowed to go except into the buildings.
- Removal of petrified wood or other materials is against the law. Do not collect or take home pieces of the wood from the National Park.