“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.”
If planning to travel from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Flagstaff, Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is a perfect pit-stop for exploring. At an elevation of 5,436 ft and spanning over 220-square miles, the park offers intense colorful views offering on-and-off-road experiences to see America’s Badlands and Painted Desert.
The “Mars-like” scenery offers a unique perspective and it’s well worth the effort to get out and walk along the paths carved between the slopes. Located in the south are the major concentrations of the famous colorful petrified wood; in the north rise the colorful banded badlands of the Painted Desert. Giant fossilized logs, sectioned like stumps lie scattered across the desert floor.
I’ve listed a few trails that I visited while at the park. My favorite part was strolling in the Crystal Forest alone in the late afternoon. Since I visited the park in early October, there were fewer crowds and I was able to enjoy the solitude of walking alone. I enjoyed the time with my thoughts.
Painted Desert Rim Trail (Source)
Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) round trip
Trailheads: Tawa Point and Kachina Point
This unpaved trail winds through the rim woodland, a place for chance encounters of many species of plants and animals and spectacular views of the Painted Desert.
Tread width: 62 in (158.6 cm), min 60 in (152.4 cm)
Grade: 6.3%, max 25.6%
Cross Slope: 3.8%, max 16.2%
Blue Mesa (Source)
Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) loop
Trailhead: Blue Mesa sun shelter
Descending from the mesa, this alternately paved and gravel trail loop offers the unique experience of hiking among badland hills of the bluish bentonite clay as well as petrified wood. Numerous plant and animal fossils have been found by paleontologists in the sedimentary layers of Blue Mesa.
Crystal Forest (Source)
Length: 0.75 mile (1.2 km) loop
Trailhead: Crystal Forest parking area
Named for the presence of beautiful crystals that can be found in the petrified logs, this trail offers one of the best opportunities to experience the petrified wood deposits. Please leave the petrified wood for others to enjoy. Report any removal of petrified wood or other materials to park staff.
Tread width: 71 in (179.8 cm), min 65 in (165.1 cm)
Grade: 5.2%, max 22.5%
Cross Slope: 2.2%, max 11.3%