The great thing about the Jasper Forest Trail in Petrified Forest National Park is that it isn’t a trail at all. Jasper Forest is labeled an Off the Beaten Path trail and hikers are allowed to explore on their own. We walked for about an hour covering only a mile roundtrip, but we could have wandered for days in the Jasper Forest.
There is a parking lot for Jasper Forest with an overlook. The viewing platform allows you to see down into a large valley that is covered in petrified wood. You can access the valley, where you can freely roam by walking right as you face the platform. A trail leads down past some large petrified logs and into the valley down an abandoned road. The hike is easy and very rewarding.
As you enter Jasper Forest, you are surrounded by petrified wood. There are massive chunks that would outweigh a car, and so many shards that you will have difficulty putting your foot down without stepping on some. Our boys picked up hundreds of pieces amazed by the fabulous colors, more it seemed than in any rainbow. They put every piece back down, though. Remember: It is unlawful to take any artifact from a national park. Leave every piece of petrified wood in the park for others to enjoy.
You don’t have to venture far into the valley to see all the petrified wood you ever wanted. Pictures can’t really capture the sparkle and the shine of the wood, but we took dozens of photos anyway. Finally, we had to pry our boys away and lead them back to the car.
You can wander as far as you want in the Jasper Forest. We chose to walk about 1/2 mile in, which left us a 1/2 mile out, but feel free to explore further if you have the stamina. The trail is flat and easy, and we feel this is the must-do hike in Petrified Forest National Park.