The Petrified Forest area was designated a National Monument on December 8, 1906. The Painted Desert was added later, and on December 9, 1962, the whole monument received national park status.
Hiking opportunities are limited. The longest established trail in the park extends for only two miles; the others are one mile or less. Backcountry camping and hiking are allowed by permit only.
The pieces of permineralized wood are fossil Araucariaceae, a family of trees that is extinct in the Northern Hemisphere but survives in isolated stands in the Southern Hemisphere.