Located conveniently off of I-40 in Arizona is an ancient preserved forest. Scientist suspect that 225 million years ago, this region was a humid and subtropical climate with trees as tall as 200 ft. As they were washed away and buried by silt, soil, and volcanic ash, the conditions were perfect for fossilization. Today these fossils of long ago trees are surrounded by ruins and petroglyphs, animal and other plant fossils, and a colorful badlands. Today, you can find these all protected by Petrified Forest National Park
We visited on a windy day in May and drove through the park from the west to the east. As we drove, we could see numerous petrified pieces of wood, but even more impressive was the color of the sandy rock that surrounded them. The blue mesas were stunning and the red painted desert was breathtaking. And best of all, the dogs were able to join us on the trails.
Petrified Forest National Park is one of the few national parks that your dogs can almost fully explore right along with you. Although they must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet, pets are allowed on all paved trails and roads. The website even states that pets are allowed in official wilderness areas. The only main restriction is that they are not allowed in any buildings (unless you have a service dog, of course).
So bring your pup with you as you walk the Giant Logs trail starting near the Rainbow Forest Museum. Here you can see “Old Faithful,” a petrified log 10 feet in diameter. Or follow the Blue Mesa Trail as it loops through wood and blue badlands. A full list of hiking trails can be found at the official NPS site for Petrified Forest National Park.
Petrified Forest even has a Bark Ranger program. Details can be found here. Part of this program is about reminding pets about the B.A.R.K. principles.
- B= Bag your poop.
- A = Always wear a leash
- R = Respect wildlife
- K = Know where you can go
After reading and agreeing to the rules and regulations regarding pets in this national park, your pet will receive a treat and be able to purchase a Bark Ranger pet tag at the visitor center.
There is no designated campground in Petrified Forest National Park. The only allowed camping is backcountry camping in the wilderness area with a free backcountry permit.
Activities in the Surrounding Areas
We camped at Homolovi State Park on our way to Petrified Forest. “Homolovi” is Hopi for “Place of the LIttle Hills.” It is fitting that this park is named with a Hopi word, as it currently serves as a research center, focusing on the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200s to the late 1300s.
There are a handful of short trails at this state park. We most enjoyed the Homolovi II Trail. This short 100 yard trail leads to the largest of the parks archaeological sites. This site contains the ruins of a a pueblo structure that contained 1200 to 2000 rooms and was believe to have been used during the 14th century.
Petrified Forest National Park is an intriguing place of beauty and history. It is located less than 3 hours from the Grand Canyon, but is vastly different. If you are visiting Arizona, don’t overlook this small dog-friendly national park.
What is your favorite dog-friendly national park? Do you have suggestions for other dog-friendly activities in this area of Arizona? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you are looking for information about other national parks, don’t forget to visit our National Parks Adventures page.