fun to do kids petrified forest arizona   Travel for Kids
united states
  | arizona | arizona northeast
     
   

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park
If kids in your family like rocks or fossils, this is the place to come. Over 200 million years ago, in the Triassic period, this desert was a forested swamp, with dinosaurs running around. The trees were buried, and the wood became stone. With wind and erosion, the petrified trees were exposed, along with amazing hills in colors of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.
      The Petrified Forest National Park has two parts – the Painted Desert (northern section), and Rainbow Forest (southern section), where you can see all the petrified logs.
    Painted Desert -
      Painted Desert Visitor Center – Stop into the visitor center to see the 20 min. film about the park – an overview of all the fossils and animals and live in this marvelous desert.
      Kachina Point - Kachina Point has spectacular views of miles of cone shaped hills, like clay class gone wild. There’s a short 1 mile rim trail (round trip) where you can get out and run around.
    Rainbow Forest -
Rainbow Forest Museum
    Rainbow Forest Museum – The museum has dioramas of what the swamp looked like millions of years ago in the Triassic period, how the logs became petrified, and large skeletons of dinosaurs, reptiles and amphibians.
    Giant Logs Trail – Right behind the museum, stroll around the Giant Logs Trail. Here you’ll see huge chunks of petrified logs, quartz rocks in bright colors of mustard yellow, magenta, powder blue, rust red and black.
Agate House
    Long Log Trail and Agate House – If you have time, it’s well worth a walk to down the Long Log Trail to the Agate House (2 miles round trip from the parking lot). As the name says, here you’ll see the longest logs in the park, lots of them piled up, like an ancient log jam. (None of the longs have branches on them, geologists believe that these logs were dragged down the swampy rivers like driftwood).
    The Agate House is a reconstructed Pueblo Indian farmhouse of petrified wood (making it the oldest wood house in the world). The Anasazi lived in this area a 1000 years ago. Bring your camera and magnifying glass to take pictures and look close up at the amazing colors and crystals in the quartz.
      Newspaper Rock – Stop at the Newspaper Rock overlook to check out the petroglyphs, carved in the rock by the Anasazi. Kids will appreciate the stick figures of people waving, and spiral circles. The drawings depict people and animals, but the meaning of the petroglyphs is unknown.
      Tip: When you’re walking around the park, kids can touch the rocks, but don’t climb on them and resist the urge to pick them up and take them home with you. (There are fines for taking rocks or fossils.) You can buy petrified rocks in the park gift shop, or just outside the park (huge ones!).
kids books
     
Petrified Forest National Park  

Fun facts about Petrified Forest National Park – geology of the Painted Desert, how the trees turned into brightly colored stones and fossils were buried, Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs. (Picture book)

 

     

Easy-to-read introduction to fossils – how they are formed, why bones turn to stone, what fossils tell us about plants, animals and the environment millions of years ago. (Picture book)

 

 
Fossils Tell of Long Ago
More children's books on other Arizona pages
twitter