When to Visit Petrified Forest National Park
Unlike Grand Canyon National Park, which sees over 4 million visitors a year, Petrified Forest barely sees 600,000 visitors each year, making it a low-key park where you don’t really have to worry about crowds. , traffic, or lack of parking at the trailhead. The only thing you really have to deal with when planning a stop at Petrified Forest is the weather. This is Arizona after all, a state whose scorching forecasts are decidedly not discreet.
Thanks to its high elevation, around 5,800 feet, the park isn’t as hot as the rest of the state, but July and August can still see temperatures soar into the 90s. And due to the fact that you are much closer to the sun, you will feel the burn. This being the desert, things cool down considerably after sunset, dropping to the low 50s even in the height of summer. While summer is prime time for the park, your best bet to beat the heat is to arrive early – unlike most national parks, Petrified Forest has designated park hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. , and there’s a literal gate on the main park road (keep in mind that Arizona does not observe daylight saving time).
Although the park receives very little rainfall, July and August are the months when afternoon storms are most likely, which would be refreshing if it weren’t for the fact that the rain turns the sandy landscape into a large slippery mud pit. Winter gets incredibly chilly by most Arizona standards, with highs in the mid-40s. Spring can be windy but dry, and fall still gets some of those wispy thunderstorms, but with temperatures comfortably fresher.