Activities For Dogs In Petrified Forest National Park

1k Views
0 Comments
0 Votes

Introduction

When it comes to pet-accessibility and dog-friendliness, few parks are as expansive and forgiving as Petrified Forest Natural Park (hey, it's even in the name). Covering about 230 square miles, this gorgeous chunk of northeastern Arizona has tons of dog-friendly trails to hike and even offers the ability to get out in the backcountry, much of which stretches into the picturesque Painted Desert. The park itself has some pretty serious history, as it holds a ton of fossils from the Late Triassic period, everything from the petrified wood it's named after to dinosaur fossils and everything in between. And because of its geography, it offers views you won't find many, if any, other places on Earth, making it a prime destination to enjoy with your furry friend.

Get Some History

Popular
0 Votes
Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Sunscreen
Water
Map
Activity description
While there is certainly plenty of history throughout many of the other national parks, Petrified Forest has a uniquely southwestern flair and just happens to feature items left by cultures that reach all the way back to the Paleoindian Period, over 15,000 years ago. Thanks to some serious conservation efforts, many of the buildings and landmarks established thousands of years ago still stand, even if in pieces, and they make for fascinating stories and history. Instead of a standard hike, we encourage you and your dog to explore some of the park's most prominent and historic attractions. With the help of a smartphone and brochures you can find in the visitor centers, you and your dog can travel back in time and see some gorgeous sights in the process. It's as cheap as the park entrance fee ($20) and can entail as little or as much walking/hiking as you want.
Step
1
Pick your places
Although Petrified Forest National Park is absolutely beautiful every direction you look, it's also quite unforgiving. It can host days of over 100 degrees and can be brutally dry, so planning will be the key to comfort. There are several important areas throughout the park to check out, so you'll first want to identify which you'd like to see and how far you and your dog are willing to hike - much of which could depend on the weather/temperature. You'll also want to figure out which way you're entering the park as well, as there are attractions that can act as starting points on either end. We highly recommend the Agate House and Agate Bridge, Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock and the Route 66 alignment, but you can put together your own list as you see fit.
Step
2
Map it out
To make sure you get the most out of your visit, it's best to map out what you'd like to see and when. Given the park's shape and layout, it's generally best to start at one end of the park and move to the other, either by car or on foot (or both), depending on the weather. Generally speaking, the Visitor's Center in the northern part of the park is the most comprehensive in terms of access and information, so we recommend that as a good place to start. Grab an analog map or look online to find the easily navigable digital one to keep track of things. Plus, if there is any further information you want on the park's attractions, both brochures and park rangers will be helpful in attaining the most accurate. (Hint: having the park's historic attraction list on your phone is also super helpful, as it doesn't waste paper but allows you access to information on each site that you can read as you visit).
Step
3
Embark
Before you head out, make sure you double check the weather and outfit yourself with necessary supplies, many of which can be purchased in the gift shop if need be. Sunscreen and water are the two most important things to have, as well as a way to share the water with your dog. Once you've gotten your bearings and gathered your supplies, you can get started. Head to your first location (most likely Route 66 or the Painted Desert Inn) and start soaking up some history!
Love this activity?

Camp and Shoot

Popular
0 Votes
Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
12 - 24 hrs
Items needed
Tent
Sleeping Bag
Food
Water
Leash
Dog Bags
First-Aid Kit
Activity description
For more adventurous types who aren't content to just hike a few trails and see a few sights, there is always backcountry camping. Petrified Forest National Park doesn't actually have any true campsites, so it's really up to each individual to stake their claim on a spot for the night and to coordinate it properly. But once you do, you won't likely regret it. Some of the best lighting and views take place before and after the park closes, so if you want perfect photo ops, some isolation for you and your dog and sights few others may ever see, backcountry camping is the perfect choice. Permits are free (outside of entrance fees) and are perfectly easy to attain in one of several locations.
Step
1
Planning
Before you just grab a tent and head out into the wilderness, there are things you should know and prepare beforehand. You should first decide how long you plan to stay and where you're able and interested to post up. Do yourself a favor by packing more supplies than necessary and trimming back once you get everything solidified. The necessities are a tent, sleeping bag (and comfortable bedding for your dog), food, water, sunscreen and first aid. Once you've got the basics, head into the main visitor's center to procure an overnight pass. Rangers will be able to direct you to areas you are allowed to camp as well as let you know where you can park your car overnight. It's a good idea to check the weather and temperature to ensure you'll have a tolerable stay overnight.
Step
2
Map it out
Once you've gotten your camping permit, supplies and information from the rangers, it's time to find a spot to camp. Before you head back out, consider asking for suggestions based on what type of area you'd like to be in or what you'd like to see. There are still restrictions on where you can go, but the rangers are experts on the park and can direct you based on your preference. Once you get an idea, you can mark a general location on your physical or digital map. Then, it's time to head out.
Step
3
Set up and hunker down
Once you've chosen your location and marked it, you can finally head out to it. It's always advised that you stay on developed paths as long as possible to preserve the natural integrity but it should be pretty obvious when that's no longer an option. If you do have a digital map you can drop markers on, head to the nearest parking lot (if there is one nearby) after properly parking your car at an appropriate off-site location (as the rules dictate, your camping spot must be at least 1-mile from two designated parking spots). Use these spots if available to drop pins/markers to use for proximity measurements before heading out. Once you find your spot, set up and arrange your gear and hunker down if it's late or drop a pin so you can find your spot again, grab your dog and go explore some more!
Love this activity?

Go Geocaching

Popular
0 Votes
Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
1 - 3 hrs
Items needed
GPS
Leash
Dog Bags
Sunscreen
Water
Activity description
One of the best features of Petrified Forest National Park is not only that it has a lot to offer, but that it has a lot of ways to discover the wonder that exists there. As a largely open-range park full of different types of environments and sights, it offers a lot already but adding the fun of geocaching is a perfect way to explore, especially for those uninitiated who have yet to discover the fun (it's basically using a GPS to explore and find hidden treasures, data/personal logs). The park has numerous designated geocache spots hidden throughout, making for another interesting way to take in the scenery. It costs no more than park entrance fees but does require a GPS device (or smartphone), which may bump up costs for those without. Otherwise, it's great for all comfortable weather types, is an excuse to get hiking and is as easy as basic navigation.
Step
1
Secure supplies
It would be rather purposeless to leave the house without all necessary supplies. While you don't need much, you will want basic dog-specific supplies to follow park rules (a leash and dog bags) as well as sunscreen, water and good walking or hiking shoes. You'll also want to get a GPS if you don't have a smartphone. If you do have a smartphone, there are several geocaching apps you can add, as well as EarthCache, which is similar but features no physical box or final location, but more so just requires another proof of visiting the site you discovered.
Step
2
Head in
Once you've got your supplies in order, pay your fees and head into the park. For amateurs, stop in at a visitor's center and talk to the rangers about geocaching, as they may be able to provide further insight as to how to go about it or how to derive as much fun as possible from the activity.
Step
3
Cache in
Once you've gotten your supplies, bearings and basic info, it's time to cache in! Turn on your GPS or app and start hiking! Our best tip is not to keep your head down or glued to the screen too much. There is plenty to see and tons of space in between each location, so make sure you don't miss out on all the beautiful scenery by being too focused on the screen than the experience. Above all else, stay hydrated, keep your dog hydrated as well and have fun! If your dog has a good nose, see if they can find the cache with their nose alone!
Love this activity?

More Fun Ideas...

Stay in a Wigwam Village

Ok, they're not actually in the park, but to get an even cooler experience out of your trip, consider staying in one of the local wigwams (you can ask around, they're not hard to find if you didn't see them on your way in). They're even dog-friendly!

Guided Tours

If you're looking to soak up as much information as possible, look into the park's presentations and guided tours. Some run as often as daily while others are on a monthly basis or even longer. They won't all be dog-friendly, but a quick, easy call ahead should help you settle any worries.

Conclusion

While Petrified Forest National Park may not have a ton of camp sites, it certainly has tons of natural beauty to get out and enjoy, even if staying overnight doesn't come with modern amenities. But for those seeking a bit of adventure, history, or even just exercise with one of the country's most breathtaking backdrops, it's easily one of the best places around.