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12 Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking (Updated 2022)

Petrified

I am writing about 12 Free 12 Free Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots because boondocking spots are difficult to find here. It was such an adventure that I am thinking of going there again when I have time. It has all the wonders of a century, and I got to experience a lot of adventures. I discovered a lot, and if you visit the place, you get to discover the place too.

The place is full of color and views that will make you not want to leave the park. If you love hiking, then you are going to love the Petrified Forest National Park hiking trails. You get to exercise your body while having views of a lifetime. This is a park that is a must-visit for anyone who loves the outdoors. Read more so that you can learn about my experience at Petrified Forest National Park.

History Of the Petrified Forest National Park

1 Concho Lake - Petrified Forest

I got to learn a lot about the history of Petrified Forest National Park, and I am going to share it with you. The history of this park begun when fossil wood was documented in the 1850s. The region developed with time, and in 1906, the president of the Petrified Forest National Monument. In 1932, the Painted Desert with over 53,000 acres was added to the park. The place was given the status of National Park Status in the year 1962. In 1970, more than 50,000 acres were added to the park as part of the wilderness, making it even more significant.

First we want to remind you that the mileages are 1. estimates and 2. usually measured either to geographic center of the park to the visitors center and driving distance is much closer.

You may want to consider an Arizona Annual State Park Pass if you plan to spend a lot of time in Arizona. The pass is inexpensive for the whole year and can save you $100’s of dollars in entrance fee.

Standard Annual Pass

The Standard Annual Pass allows non-commercial day-use access at Arizona State Parks for pass holder and up to three additional adults in the same vehicle, except for daily entry to Boyce Thompson Arboretum; and at Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, Buckskin Mountain and River Island State Parks on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and state holidays from April 1st to October 31st.

Another option is the America the Beautiful Pass. This is $79 dollars for 1 year or $79 for lifetime for people who are disabled or seniors 62 and above. You will only need 1 since your vehicle can have up to 4 people and you will only need 1 pass.

America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series

A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.

 

12 Free Petrified National Forest Boondocking Spots

1. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site

Concho Arizona And Desert Lake Trip

Address
Concho, Arizona
GPS: 34.44129, -109.63173
Elevation: 6302′

Management: Fish and Wildlife Service

The road in is Gravel and 1/4 mile miles from a paved road. Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site is open All Year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 7 at Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site.

Best Review:

Only a 7 day limit but a beautiful spring fed lake with a Bald Eagle or two or ? and Great Blue Herons, Doves, Swallows. A bit of road noise but Route 61 is not a major highway. You will enjoy your 7 days.

This is a very secluded and peaceful place, granted I passed through in the dead of winter. There are trash cans throughout the park and the lake is easily accessible. Very little noise at night, a nice place to spend the night or several, especially if you are fishing. There aren’t any power hookups, toilets, or any other services.

2. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground

Crystal Forest Campground

I MUST STRESS THIS IS ONLY FOR RV AND CAMPERS THAT ARE SELF CONTAINED. OTHERWISE YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE IN NOT A VERY NICE MANNER.

Address
US 180
Holbrook, Arizona
GPS: 34.79245, -109.890915
Elevation: 5400′

Management: Fish and Wildlife Service

The road in is Paved. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 40+.

Best Review:

Amazing place in the middle of nowhere. We got in late and the closed parking lot was full but found a spot in the pla e across the street. The musuem was closed but paid $10 in the am. Great night skies and right at the entrance to the petrified forest

3. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Scott Reservoir

Scott's Reservoir (Arizona) - 2 Night Camping Trip

Address
Lakeside
Show Low, Arizona
GPS: 34.173465, -109.963188
Elevation: 6732′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 1 miles from a paved road. Scott Reservoir is open April 1st through November 1st. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 5 days at Scott Reservoir.

Best Review:

Absolutely not big rig friendly!!! Beautiful spot if tent camping or small rig. Way too tight turns and low branches. If wife had not had 30 years of over the road truck driving would have ruined our 40 ft class A.

4. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Los Burros Campground

The Best Loop in the White Mountains - Los Burros | Arizona Mountain Bike Trails

Address
Apache Site Graves National Forest, Arizona
GPS: 34.141178, -109.776392
Elevation: 7863′

Management: National Forest Service

The road in is Gravel and 7 miles from a paved road. Los Burros Campground is open May – Oct. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 at Los Burros Campground.

Best Review:

Great place, relatively low use, right on the White Mountain Trail System. Unfortunately, it is used by a lot of people with horses who don’t feel the need to clean up after their animals. Many sites had horse poop making the place smell a bit like a stable. I will be sure to bring a shovel next time I stay.

5. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – HOPI Travel Plaza (BK)

Hopi Travel Plaza,Holbrook Arizona

Address
Holbrook, Arizona
GPS: 34.974335, -110.090169
Elevation: 5285′

Management: Truck Stop

Overnight parking okay. We asked to make sure. They said yes only by the barriers. They have security. Mixed reviews but there is great W-fi and some people just want a little more.

Best Review:

You gotta keep it real – it’s a truck stop, not a high-end resort. It has a functional layout so if you tow something you should have an easy time in and out. Place has pretty much everything you need : Laundry, clean restrooms and bulk propane. Just stay out the way (I stayed at the big Hopi panel) and you’re set

6. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Show Low Mogollon Rim Developmental

Mogollon Rim Offers Incredible Free Camping And Relief From Arizona Heat

Address
Show Low, Arizona
GPS: 34.206696, -110.098562
Elevation: 6808′

Management: National Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and 2 miles from a paved road. Show Low Mogollon Rim Developmental is open April-November. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 Days at Show Low Mogollon Rim Developmental.

Best Review:

Stayed here one night in our Jeep and roof top tent. Luckily one review said to stay right at the second fork and found several great spots. Did not look like they get used much. (FYI going left at the fork is NOT the correct way to find campsites.) About 5 miles west of town on FS300. At first fork stay on main road then at second fork take right road.

7. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Carnero Lake

Explore Carnero Lake | Apache County Adventures | Fly & Lure Fishing, Dispersed Camping, and Forest

Address
Fs 117A
Greer, Arizona
GPS: 34.114423, -109.530786
Elevation: 9045′

Management: State Park

8. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Nomadic Management

Nomadic Management #Pinthetrash

The price is I donated 1 Hours Time.

Address
Hwy 191
Saint Johns, Arizona
GPS: 34.83869, -109.23783
Elevation: 6283′

Management: Private

The road in is Paved. Nomadic Management is open Spring and Fall. There are 30 or more campsites at this location.

Best Review:

I had the pleasure of being the first traveler to enjoy Nomadic Management’s invitation to all that are passing through St. Johns Arizona (about an hour west of Gallup, NM) to stop off at their place and camp with them for a bit. The GPS coordinates at the Gate are: 34.83869, -109.23783 If you are coming from the south they are just past mile marker 339, on the left – and from the north about ¾ of a mile from mile marker 340, on the right. When you get to the gate and honk 3 times and someone will come and open the gate or text/call 480-869-3193 and I’ll have it open and ready.

9. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Whitewater Draw NWA

Spectacular Wildlife Scenes - Whitewater Draw, Arizona

Address
Unnamed Road
Springerville, Arizona
GPS: 34.132573, -109.425711
Elevation: 7451′

Management: Fish and Wildlife

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This is a high elevation location.

Best Review:

Directions are good, looks like new gravel on road but about 1 mile from site a sign on gate from Bureau of Land Management states no camping beyond the sign.

10. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – FSR 117

Free Camping near Petrified Forest National Park - Campground Review - Full Time RV Living & Travel

Address
Unnamed Road
Greer, Arizona
GPS: 34.067523, -109.54546
Elevation: 9160′

Management – Public – Forest Service

This is a very large area with dispersed camping throughout the area. The area is high altitude and 20+ miles to the nearest services.

Best Review:

The weekends are very crowded for the majority of the summer and the area is closed during the winter months. There are tons of trails for riding ATV’s, horses, or 4-wheel drive. Roads can become VERY rutted in the rainy season.

11. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Road 118

Petrified Forest National Park and free camping outside gate!

Address
Forest Road 118
Greer, Arizona
GPS: 34.077373, -109.48521
Elevation: 8409′

Management: National Forest Service

Plenty of dispersed camping on forest lands, less than a mile off the highway.

Best Review:

None

12. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site

Off Grid in Concho 4K [15] Undocumented Human

Address
Concho, Arizona
GPS: 34.44129, -109.63173
Elevation: 6302′

Management: Fish and Wildlife

The road in is Gravel and 1/4 mile miles from a paved road. Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site is open All Year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 7 at Concho Lake, AZ Fish & Wildlife Site.

Best Review:

This is a very secluded and peaceful place, granted I passed through in the dead of winter. There are trash cans throughout the park and the lake is easily accessible. Very little noise at night, a nice place to spend the night or several, especially if you are fishing. There aren’t any power hookups, toilets, or any other services.

Paid Apache Reservation Campgrounds

The reservation campgrounds are $8 a night and well worth the price. They all offer restrooms and drinking water plus this is a main source of revenue for the reservation and it always good to give a little back and we all know.

1. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Cooley Lake – Apache Tribe

Relaxing Fall SUV Camping in Arizona by a Lake

Leave a Review This is a PAY campground. ($12 or less)
The price is $8/night

Address
South Indianpine Access Drive
Arizona
GPS: 34.071269, -109.911098
Elevation: 7149′

Management: Indian Reservation

Apache Tribe is open May-Oct.

Best Review:

None

2. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Shush-Be-Tou Lake – Apache Tribe

Reservation Lake, Arizona

Leave a Review This is a PAY campground. ($12 or less)
The price is $8/night

Address
Unnamed Road
McNary, Arizona
GPS: 34.06386, -109.732486
Elevation: 7844′

Management: Indian Reservation

Shush-Be-Tou Lake – Apache Tribe is open May-Oct.

Best Review:

None

3. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Shush-Be Zazhe Lake – Apache Tribe

Pop-up Camping at Burnt Corral Campground. Apache Lake Arizona

Leave a Review This is a PAY campground. ($12 or less)
The price is $8/night

Address
Unnamed Road
McNary, Arizona
GPS: 34.05636, -109.723877
Elevation: 7930′

Management: Indian Reservation

Shush-Be Zazhe Lake – Apache Tribe is open May-Oct.

Best Review:

None

4. Boondocking Location Near Petrified Forest National Park – Bog Tank – Apache Tribe

Bog Tank on the Apache Indian Reservation near McNary, Arizona

Leave a Review This is a PAY campground. ($12 or less)
The price is $8/night

Address
Arizona 260
McNary, Arizona
GPS: 34.053792, -109.728442
Elevation: 7904′

Management: Indian Reservation

Bog Tank – Apache Tribe is open Apr-Nov.

Best Review:

None

Top 10 Trails to Hike at Petrified Forest National Park

Top 5 Hikes | Petrified Forest National Park | Arizona

If you are at Petrified Forest National Park and you love hiking, then you are in the right place. I will list the top 10 trails that I loved the most and ones you should try out. The Petrified Forest National Park has 14 known trails, including view trails and dog leash trails. The trails are a way to get your exercise on while having the best views. The good thing is that the park is open all year round except on Christmas day. Other than that, the park roads are open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.

1. Blue Mesa Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

1. Blue Mesa Trail - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

A few steep areas, but short in duration. It’s a unique experience to hike down and walk among the rock formations and fallen petrified wood. It takes you out of time. Well worth the time!

This trail is rated as an easy and is 1 mile long. I was pleased about the scenic views, and anyone of any skill level can go on this trail. They also allow dogs, so you can go there with your dogs as long as you keep them on a leash. It is a short hike but be careful of the steep areas. I had a unique experience especially walking down, and I loved the fallen petrified wood and rock formations. Pictures don’t do this place any justice, and there is even a paved trail that takes you down into a canyon where you get to enjoy stunning views.

Length: 1.0 mi
Elevation gain: 111 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Partially paved, Views, No shade, Fee

2. Crystal Forest Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

2. Crystal Forest Trail - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

The second trail I had the chance to go on was the Crystal Forest trail. Easy paved path but, a surreal experience to be among these stone structures that have formed within the last 200 million years. The trees were preserved under layers of silt during the Triassic period and eventually replaced by quartz before being eroded to the surface. The landscape itself is dry and barren, except for the miles of ancient stones.

It is an easy trail and is 1 mile long. You can also go on the trail with your dog as long as you keep it on a leash. I enjoyed the trail, and I can say that it was pretty easy to maneuver. I loved the petrified log views and enjoyed the different colors. If you go there in summer, make sure to carry a lot of water. Look out for the rings on the trees so that you don’t pass by without seeing them.

Length: 0.9 mi
Elevation gain: 36 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Paved, Views, Fee

3. Painted Desert Rim Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

3. Painted Desert Rim Trail - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

A short out and back trail with panoramic views of the painted desert hills. The colors are fantastic! The trail is a dirt path with a few mild rocky areas. Limited shade, so it got hot fast for an August hike, but there was a decent breeze.

Another easy trail that you should try out is the Painted Desert Rim Trail, and it is 1.2 miles long and a must-visit. Like the other two trails, you can come with your dog and ensure that you keep it on a leash. It was a short trail in and out, and I loved the Painted Desert hills views. The colors were fantastic and worth the hiking. It was really hot, but I am grateful that there was some breeze which helped a lot. It was not very crowded when I went, but there could be many people on the right day.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 49 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Fee

4. Long Logs and Agate House Loop Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

4. Long Logs and Agate House Loop Trail 3 - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

Agate house (structure build around 1100 or 1200 with petrified wood) was a great sight but the trail starts with a 1/2 mi paved road which I imagine would be scorching/unbearable on a typical summer day. Seems like they are trying to deter people from visiting the agate house by stripping the original road to the trailhead.

The fourth trail that I loved a lot was the Long Logs and Agate House Loop Trail. It is an easy trail that is 2.6 miles long. If you love wildlife, this is the best chance you will have to see some of them. The trail is accessible all year round, and you can bring your dog and keep it on a leash. If you go there during summer as I did, carry lots of water. There are also a few shade spots that are great for you and even your dogs. The trail is lovely and worth the hike.

Length: 2.6 mi
Elevation gain: 98 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Walking, Partially paved, Views, Wildlife,
No shade, Historic site, Fee

5. Onyx Bridge Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

5. Onyx Bridge Trail - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

This is a great hike to tackle in the early morning. We didn’t complete the entire loop, instead we cut it short at the dried up river for a 3.5 mile loop. The trail is not maintained so once you get out of the initial mile stretch, you’ll want to use the trail recorder. We found ourselves off-route at times because the trail was difficult to follow, but the trailhead is at the painted desert behind you so you can always find your way back.

The Onyx bridge trail is a moderate trail. It has great scenic views that make it worth all the sweating. Make sure you start early in the morning if you want to finish it and come back down. I didn’t particularly appreciate that the trail was poorly maintained, but a trail recorder helped a lot. Make sure to carry it with you if you don’t want to go off-trail. We were geared with lots of water, cooling vests, and the right shoes. All this helped keep us comfortable and be able to withstand the hot sun.

Length: 4.6 mi
Elevation gain: 442 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Views, Rocky, Off trail, No shade, Fee

6. Puerco Pueblo Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

6. Puerco Pueblo Trail - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

Short trail, takes no time at all. The rock detailing the solstice with the shaft of light through another rock crack is incredible. Pretty sweet! Worth a stop. Petroglyphs are actually a bit better than the nearby Newspaper Rock because you can see them at a much closer vantage.

Another easy trail to try out in Petrified Forest National park is Puerco Pueblo Trail. It is a short trail that will not take much of your time at all. You can also come with your dog as long as you keep it leashed. The trail was short and the rock detailing was very incredible. This place, to me, was the best place that I got to learn a lot about the PFNP landscape history.

Length: 0.3 mi
Elevation gain: 13 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Walking, Views, Historic site, Fee

7. Devil’s Playground Loop Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

7. Devil's Playground Loop - Petrified Forest National Park Boondocking Spots

Permits are available at the north visitor center. They only give away 3 permits a week, starting on Wednesday. First come, first served. You can only get a permit for that day and everyone who is going has to be there. For example, we wanted to go on Thursday. So, we had to get the permit Thursday morning (Although we were there on Wednesday, we could not get a permit for the next day).

Another moderate trail to try out is the Devil’s Playground loop. I loved this trail because of its lovely wildflowers, and I got to do some bird watching. It was a special place that was incredible, unlike the other trails that I was on. I allowed myself enough time and ensured that I got to see all the rock views. We camped near this place, and the views at night were amazing.

Length: 7.5 mi
Elevation gain: 475 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, No shade, Fee

8. Giant Logs Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

8. Giant Logs Trail - Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

Impressively sized old logs. By Visitor Center so it was busier than other trails. Glad I did it but preferred Crystal Forest

Another easy trail worth checking out in Petrified Forest National Park is the Giant Logs Trails. The trail may be short, but it is worth it. I liked the massive petrified logs, and I especially loved the ones with the colorful Quartz. I appreciated the breathtaking views of the park, and the day was not too hot.

Length: 0.6 mi
Elevation gain: 36 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Paved, Views, Wildlife, Fee

9. Blue Forest Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

9. Blue Forest Trail - Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

This is probably the best trail in this park. It is stunningly beautiful and unique! It is difficult to follow the trail, so come prepared with the map downloaded or turn around when unsure. Tons of petrified wood! Very very rocky at the end, so come with hiking poles and very sturdy shoes.

One of the moderate trails that I loved a lot was the Blue Forest Trail. It is one of the best trails in the park, and it was unique and beautiful. I was advised to come with a map, and I advise you to do the same. The trail can be hard to follow, and you don’t want to get lost. Make sure to carry plenty of water, and it does not matter whether you are in good shape; you will need it. The last part of the trail is steep, so be careful.

Length: 2.4 mi
Elevation gain: 223 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, No shade

10. Petrified Forest Scenic Drive

10. Petrified Forest Scenic Drive - Petrified Forest Hiking Trail

The petrified forest is underrated. Go here instead of the Grand Canyon! The whole scenic drive is paved with plenty of places to park a large RV and do some hiking.

I am going to finish with the moderate trail, which is known as Petrified Forest Scenic drive. It is 28.6 miles long and can be challenging, especially if you are not in good shape. If you go up this trail, you will discover how much the Petrified Forest is underrated. The good thing about this trail is that there is plenty of places to park your RV and do your hiking. Make sure you stop several times on the way so that you can catch the incredible views.

Length: 28.6 mi
Elevation gain: 977 ft
Route type: Point to point

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Nature trips, Scenic driving, Paved, Views, Fee

Conclusion

I loved my trip to Petrified Forest National Park. I would recommend this park to others as I am planning another visit to the place. It has excellent views that you won’t find anywhere else and is full of fantastic colors. This article does not do the place any justice, and you have to visit it to see for yourself.

Things to Do and See In the Petrified Forest National Park

Among all the parks in Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park is a park you should give a few days of attention to. It is not the biggest park, but I loved the place, and I will list some of the best places to visit and sites to see as well as activities there. Below are things to do and see in Petrified Forest National Park.

Camping

This is one of the best places to backpack and backcountry camp. There are great places to pitch your tent and enjoy the night sky. I recommend this place because it has phenomenal views and at night, the stars are like you have never seen before. This is the best pack backing trip you will ever have, but I request you carry a map with you. Carry enough water and a compass, and it will be the best trip you ever had.

The Old Studebaker

The Petrified Forest National Park is home to a section of Old Route 66, you will notice that there is no road anymore, but that should not discourage you. A rusty shell car known as the old Studebaker at the old route shows you that the place was once a thriving highway. It is a photogenic spot that is one of the most iconic spots at the park.

Visit Puerco Pueblo

Like other parks, the Petrified Forest National Park has rich Native American history worth learning about. The site has more than 100 individual rooms that house a lot of people back in the day. The natives were forced to leave the place because of climate change, and they moved to more livable areas. What remains of the place are petroglyphs, earthenware, structure outlines, and stone tools.

The Teepees

The Teepees are seen immediately after you finish the Painted Desert. It has beautiful rock formations that are shaped like haystacks or teepees. The rocks are also made of white rock, grey, red, purple, and blue bands. It is a unique sight that is worth seeing.

The Blue Mesa

This is one of the best hiking trails in Petrified Forest National Park. The trail has rick colors that make it a striking landscape. There are several viewpoints to stop at, and a hike will help you see all the points. There are also other trails to visit, and they are discussed in the next part of this post.


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