Contact Petrified Forest National Park, P.O. Box 2217, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028 (tel. 928/524-6228; www.nps.gov/pefo). The Petrified Forest Museum Association, Park Road 1 (P.O. Box 2277), Petrified Forest, AZ 86028 (tel. 928/524-6228, ext. 239), has several excellent books on the park. Written by retired geology professor Sidney Ash, Petrified Forest: A Story in Stone provides a good overview of the human and natural history of the park. Stephen Trimble's book Earth Journey: A Road Guide to Petrified Forest is almost as good as a guided tour of the park's scenic drive.
For information about area lodging and dining, contact the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, 100 E. Arizona St., Holbrook, AZ 86025 (tel. 800/524-2459 or 928/524-6558; www.gotourholbrook.com).
The park has a visitor center at each end. Both sell books, videos, and area maps, and offer free brochures on the park's geology, flora, and fauna. The park and both visitor centers are open daily year-round, from 7am to 7pm in summer, with shorter hours at other times, and closed Christmas.
The Painted Desert Visitor Center, outside the park's north entrance gate, has general information on the park and shows a 20-minute film about the park. Two miles north of the park's south entrance station, the Rainbow Forest Museum shows the same film, plus it has displays on the formation of petrified wood, fossilized bones and teeth of ancient animals, and a display of letters from people who stole wood from the park and later regretted it. The latter is particularly compelling and often quite funny.
Also see the section on the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark under "Park Attractions," below.
Fees & Permits
Entrance to the park costs $10 per vehicle, $5 per visitor on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle. The required but free backcountry camping permits are issued at visitor centers.
Special Regulations & Warnings
Because an estimated 25,000 pounds of petrified wood are stolen from the park every year, the National Park Service has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for visitors who remove even the smallest pieces. Violators are subject to fines starting at $325. If rangers suspect you of removing any wood or other resources, they may detain you and search your car.
There are long stretches between water sources at the park, so fill containers at either visitor center before starting on the scenic drive.
While pets must be leashed, dogs are permitted on most trails in the park.