The spectacular mesas and colorful fossilized wood of Petrified Forest National Park, in northeastern Arizona, served as a backdrop to big changes recently. Most RVers breeze through the Painted Desert on Interstate 40 and miss out on the newly expanded park and its renovated Painted Desert Inn Museum and Bookstore, a National Historic Landmark.
The charming 1920s-era inn reopened in May after being closed for 18 months for much-needed restoration. Rehabilitation work included careful attention to the historic tin work originally created by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s. In December 2004, legislation was passed that will soon expand the size of the park by 125,000 acres
to protect significant fossil records and archaeological sites.
Should you need more reasons to exit I-40, this national treasure is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year with special events and activities. The park’s 45-minute drive is inspiring. Allow at least a half-day for stops; more if you like to hike. Look for pronghorns along the way, as well as petroglyphs, ruins and some of the world’s best petrified wood.
For more information, call (928) 524-6228, or visit nps.gov/pefo.