backpackers in wilderness area wash with red badlands
Backpacking in Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area

NPS/Tara Harbert

There is no RV, car, or front country camping in the park. There is no boondocking, dispersed or “primitive” camping, or just pulling off into a parking area.

There is only backpacking/hiking into the designated Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area to spend the night in the park, at least a half mile from your vehicle. Please be prepared for this adventure!

The backpacking wilderness permit is free. You may obtain it in person from either visitor centers, Painted Desert Visitor Center or Rainbow Forest Museum, on the day that you want to backpack. Each vehicle must have a permit. The permits are available until 4:30 pm.


Group camping is limited to 8. Because of the fragile soils and landscape features, minimum impact camping is very important. This includes limiting the number of people within an area.

See to learn about the principles of Leave No Trace camping.

Rules, Regulations, and Safety Points:

  • Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park.
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed in the Wilderness.
  • No wood or charcoal fires are allowed. Please use fuel stoves.
  • Bury human waste.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trash behind.
  • Be aware that elevations average 5,800 feet.
  • Temperatures vary greatly from extreme heat to bitter cold.
  • Take all water necessary. One gallon per person per day is recommended during summer months.

Last updated: June 22, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Petrified Forest National Park
P.O. Box 2217

Petrified Forest, AZ 86028-2217


928 524-6228

Contact Us