Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Petrified Forest National Park
The logs found in Petrified Forest were caught in a jam during flooding about 225 million years ago. They became buried in sediment and eventually the cell structure of the logs was replaced with quartz. Iron oxide and other minerals added color to the quartz. It’s amazing how some of the petrified logs look just like recently fallen trees.
But petrified trees are not all the park has to offer. The same minerals that colored the logs have contributed to the beauty of the hills of the Painted Desert. Many fossils of dinosaurs and plants have been uncovered in the park and are on display at the Rainbow Forest Museum. Evidence of years of human occupation can be seen in two ancient building sites and several walls of petroglyphs.
About half of the park is accessible. We came into the park from the south, so in order as we encountered them: The Rainbow Forest Museum is accessible. The Giant Logs Trail behind the museum is not accessible due to numerous steps but many logs can be seen at the beginning of the trail. Two more trails are located across the bridge from the visitor center. Follow the sidewalk to the trails. We missed seeing the signs and did not realize that the first half mile is paved. The trail splits at that point and goes to Agate House and Long Logs Loop. Both of these trails are rough and may not be doable in a wheelchair.
Crystal Forest Trail is paved but has some steep sections where wheelchair users will need to have some help. Jasper Forest and Agate Bridge viewpoints are accessible. Blue Forest Trail has a dangerously steep section and is not accessible. Newspaper Rock and Puerco Pueblo trails are paved and accessible. The viewpoints in the painted desert section are accessible but the trail at Tawa Point is not. The Painted Desert Inn was closed when we visited but it appears to be accessible. The accessible Painted Desert Visitor Center has very few displays but it does have a short video that’s worth watching.
All of the parking lots have long RV spaces or room enough for Rvs to be parked through two spaces.
The park does not have a campground but the Crystal Forest Gift Shop at the south end of the park has a free campground with picnic tables and ramadas but no hookups. We did not visit the gift shop so I can’t report on the level of accessibility.
Park North Entrance 35.06579, -109.78251
Campground South Entrance 34.79255, -109.89091