Whipple Point was the seventh scenic overlook we stopped at as we made our way from the Painted Desert Visitor Center to the Puerco Pueblo Ruins. It is one of eight Painted Desert viewpoints in Petrified Forest National Park, including Tiponi Point, Tawa Point, Kachina Point, Chinde Point, Pintado Point, Nizhoni Point, and Lacey Point.
From Whipple Point we had a fantastic view of the 12,633 foot tall San Francisco Peaks more than 100 miles away.
Whipple Point History
For more than 13,000 years, people like Ice Age hunters, traders, Native Americans, Spanish explorers, military and railroad expeditions, and automobile drivers passed by this location along a natural travel corridor that provided a direct route between the eastern and western United States.
Whipple Point is named for Lieutenant Amiel Whipple who passed through this area in 1853 while surveying a railroad route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. On his expedition, Whipple named the seasonal river you can see from this viewpoint Lithodendron Wash, from the Greek words meaning stone tree.
Whipple’s expedition was the first to document the abundant petrified wood deposits nearby.
Since then, this corridor has been part of the Beale Wagon Road (1857), the Overland Main/Star Route (1876), a transcontinental railroad (1883), the National Old Trails Highway (1912), Route 66 (1926), and is presently crossed by I-40.
Know Before You Go
- Whipple Point in the Painted Desert area of Petrified Forest National Park is the seventh vista point south of the Painted Desert Visitor Center on Park Road, Arizona 86028 in 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 and Painted Desert landscape is an extremely dry, high altitude desert so pack lots of water, even for short day hikes, to avoid heat exhaustion.
- Picnic Shelters are located at Chinde Point, Rainbow Forest, and Painted Desert Visitor Center.
- Restrooms are located at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center, Rainbow Forest Curio Shop, Painted Desert Visitor Center, Painted Desert Inn, Chinde Point, and the Puerco Pueblo.
- 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.