It was a day-use only park, so we drove in from Gallup, NM - Arizona doesn't use DST so our times were all messed up and we got there early in the morning so first into the visitor centre. Even by that time (8am) the sun is so high in the sky and the colours were already getting washed out. We entered the park in the Painted Desert area. But even with the high sun the colours were still amazing - photos just don't do it justice! Took a little hike from here - walked down into the desert floor from Kachina Point and headed off into the 'wilderness area'. There were no trails we could just walk wherever we wanted - used the 'wash' in the distance as a reference point. What looked like a tiny dried-up stream bed was actually as wide as a 6 lane highway and filled with perfect 'clean' sand once we got there! All along there were bits of old trees just strewn about - trees that are rock! I just can't get over how cool this looks - how tree like! The texture is all still there - preserved forever, cast in stone - AMAZING! And this part of the park wasn't even heavily populated with the petrified forest so much - that was more south!
The park has a 30 mile road going right through it. Lots of pull-outs and mini trails leading to points of interest. We stopped at most of them - really making the most out of the fact it was only day-use (we're so used to spending time in the National Parks, camping, hiking out etc). There was an old pueblo ruins, some petroglyphs and the old Route 66 passed right by - the line of old telegraph poles remains to mark the old road and a rusting old car.
The thickest concentration of petrified wood (did I mention HOW COOL this stuff is!!!? - I did?, ok!) was in the Crystal Forest and Long Logs area - wow! Did another little hike round this area - to an old pueblo building that had been built with the 'wood/stone'. These days that's not really in keeping with the whole National Parks preservance policy but it was done 'before their time' so it's been left. People nicking stones is a HUGE no-no in the park. They estimate (how on earth?!) that 1 ton of the stuff gets swiped each month! There are spot checks on vehicles as you leave. Strange because 1/2 mile down the road outside the park boundaries you can buy as much as you like - there are whole parking lots full of the stuff all laid out for your perusal and purchase (it just isn't collected from within the park).