Plan to spend a few hours in this national park to fully experience all it has to offer. While it only takes about 45 minutes to drive through the park (28 miles), allow for two to three hours to enjoy viewpoints and some small trails off of the main road. Trails are short — most less than a mile and the longest only 2 miles — and take visitors through various sections of the park. Behind the Rainbow Forest Museum is a .4-mile loop through Giant Logs, where the largest of the park’s petrified logs reside. The Crystal Forest, where fallen trees have crystalized into a series of sparkling colors, is best seen from its loop that’s less than one mile in length.
For the best views of the Painted Desert, follow the 1-mile rim trail. In this area of the park, stop in the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark. As part of the National Park Service, kids can participate in Junior Ranger programs. Leashed pets are allowed in this park.
Summer hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and winter hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are two entrances into the park: the North Entrance is accessible via I-40, and the South Entrance is accessible via US 180, both near Holbrook, Arizona. Vehicles are $10 each to enter.