What to do in Petrified Forest National Park with Kids
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Wondering what to do in Petrified Forest National Park with kids? You’ve come to the right place! While not one of the more popular parks, Petrified Forest National Park is definitely worth a visit with kids! From the Junior Ranger program to fun hiking trails, there’s lots to explore in Petrified Forest National Park with kids. Also important to note, if you have a dog, Petrified Forest is a dog friendly National Park and they can become Bark Rangers!
How to get to Petrified Forest National Park
The closest major airport to Petrified Forest National Park is PHX, 3 hours and 20 minutes away. Albuquerque is 3 hours and 40 minutes away and Las Vegas is 5 hours away. Most areas in Southern CA are 8.5 hours away.
Best time to visit Petrified Forest National Park
While the park is visited year round, the best time to visit Petrified Forest National Park is in the fall and winter months, when the crowds are low, little to no precipitation and cooler temperatures. Summers can get hot and since AZ has a monsoon season, there’s a good chance you will have some rain during your trip if you visit in the summer months. If you want to see wildflowers, they bloom from March to October.
We visited in late November and the weather was perfect, with temperatures in the high 60s and a nice cool breeze.
Where to stay when visiting Petrified Forest National Park
Camping near Petrified Forest National Park
If you are traveling by RV, keep in mind that there is no RV camping inside the park. If you want to camp inside of the park, you will have to hike at least one mile from your vehicle to set up camp.
Best family-friendly hotels near Petrified Forest National Park
While there are no hotels inside the park, there are some family-friendly hotels near Petrified Forest National Park in the city of Holbrook, about 25 minutes from the park entrance.
Things to bring when visiting Petrified Forest National Park with kids
- Travel Journal: We bring our travel journal on each National Park trip to collect stamps/stickers and Milana fills it out as we go.
- Sun Hat: Since there isn’t much shade, bring a good quality sun hat for your kids.
- Dog water bottle: If you are bringing your dog, be sure to pack them water in a dog-friendly water dispenser.
Books and games about Petrified Forest National Park
Things to do in Petrified Forest National Park with kids
There are lots of things to explore in Petrified Forest National Park. Hiking is going to be your best bet if you want to see the petrified wood up close. Please be courteous and do not take any of it with you. In fact, if you need more deterrence, look up the curse of the Petrified Forest!
Best kid-friendly hiking trail in Petrified Forest National Park
- Crystal Forest Loop Trail: While only 0.85 miles long, you will see a dense collection of petrified wood on this easy loop trail.
- Giant Logs Trail: If you want to see some colorful logs, this short 0.4 mile trail is for you. Keep in mind that there are some stairs here, making this trail not accessible to strollers or wheelchairs.
- Blue Mesa Trail: This 1 mile loop trail takes you through the gorgeous painted desert.
- Agate House Trail: This is a 2 mile round trip trail that runs from the Rainbow Forest Museum parking lot. You will see a Puebloan house, constructed almost entirely of petrified wood.
Junior Ranger program in Petrified Forest National Park
Just like all of the other US National Parks, there is a Junior Ranger program in Petrified Forest National Park. Be sure to grab a Junior Ranger booklet at one of the visitor centers before you start exploring!
Bark Ranger Program in Petrified Forest National Park
As I mentioned, Petrified Forest National Park is dog friendly. When you arrive, head to the visitor center for a welcome dog treat and take the Bark Ranger pledge before heading out on the trails with your pups. We brought our Pug puppy, Frankie, and she loved visiting the park.
Where to eat with kids near Petrified Forest National Park
There is a small cafe inside of the park with limited food options. If you want a bigger variety, Holbrook is 25 minutes away with many dining options for families.
Have you been to Petrified Forest National Park with kids? We loved seeing all of the petrified woods and exploring a lesser known park. If you’re in Arizona, don’t miss their 3rd and not so popular park. It is definitely worth a visit!