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“Do Not Miss”

Petrified Forest Loop
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Attraction details
Owner description: 16-mile scenic drive in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Do Not Miss”
Reviewed July 5, 2014

This is a must do for everyone and especially parents. Have no reservations to drive out to the west side of the park. The road is "gravel" but very well maintained for the fracking operations you will see along they way: only a lowered or ultra sports car would have issues (and in reality probably not even these type will suffer. It is a nice smooth road).

Please, even those whom question whether they can manage the "strenuous" hike, the distance to the petrified wood is minimal.The half mile walk to the gate is easy - follow the instructions previously written by reviewers. The hike in is flat until you meet the rise to the plateau. The hike up to the plateau is the equivalent of about three flights of stairs. One can rest as much as needed. Then at the "post follow the path to the left. You will be on an unspeakably beautiful sea of yellow flowered plain for a mile or less. then you will descend the plain on the same equivalent three flights of stairs into the basin containing the petrified forest.

All can be accomplished in a leisurely two or fewer hours not including viewing time.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
6 Thank TravelingTnHillbilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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39 reviews from our community

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English first
Mandan, North Dakota
Level 6 Contributor
190 reviews
83 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“A Great Hike!”
Reviewed June 22, 2014 via mobile

Because of time we did the short hike, not the 15+ mile hike. I won't go into driving directions too much since others here have given very helpful and detailed ones. There are also maps on the National Park Service web page for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

We drove around the outside of the park on gravel roads in a two door car and had no issues. There was only one low spot that might be a little hairy if there has been a recent heavy rain.

After parking you enter the park thru a lift up gate, sign in, and then it is a 1/2 mile walk to the trail head. The sign is very worn and needs to be replaced. This can cause some confusion, but you can't go the wrong way! BOTH DIRECTIONS lead to petrified wood. If you did the complete loop you would see them both. Doing the short hike from the marker it is approximately a 3 mile round trip hike in either direction. There is no short loop linking them though so you need to come back to the sign if you want to go to both areas.

It was a cool day with occasional sprinkles and we appreciated having the trail to ourselves. We saw 3 bison off in the distance along with numerous birds, wildflowers, and lots of tracks including bison, deer, and coyote(?).

Last but certainly not least, the petrified wood was very cool to see! It seemed like we were on another planet! On the walk back to the car we kept seeing pieces of wood we missed initially.

Wear appropriate shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray is never a bad idea in ND!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank AMC8380
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Level 6 Contributor
184 reviews
89 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Great hike”
Reviewed June 21, 2014

My boys loved this hike, but my wife didn't enjoy it quite as much. It was a little muddy on the way down, but it started to rain when we were at the petrified wood. We made it most of the way back without incident, but towards the begging of the train there is a hill made of bentonite. A very slippery clay that absorbs water. Well three of us went down in a heap! The boys were laughed and laughed, my wife not so much. I loved the wilderness aspect of the hike.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank mafischl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
293 reviews
74 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
“Petrified Forest Loop...AMAZING!”
Reviewed June 20, 2014 via mobile

My husband and I hiked the Petrified Forest Loop Trail in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Overall, the trail is well marked and traveled. We started in the morning and it took about 5 hours (with stops) and the temperature that day started in the mid-50s and got up to the mid-70s. Together, we went through a gallon of water (almost 4 liters).

Trailhead starts about 7 miles off of I-94 (exit 23, going west on I-94...there is no exit 23 going eastbound). The 7 mile road is a dirt road.

We saw tons of buffalo...adult males by themselves and in small groups...and two very large herds of adult females and babies. Saw some antelope as well.

We would recommend that you wear long pants versus shorts due to the high grasses. We also used gaiters and our hiking poles came in handy a time or two. If it has rained within the last day or two, portions of the trail can be quite muddy and very slippery. We would recommend the 10 hiking essentials and plenty of water and sunscreen (which, of course, are 2 of the 10 essentials).

Gorgeous views and definitely worth the hike. Traveled mostly through grasslands...open wilderness areas where you can see for miles.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Jessie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maple Grove, Minnesota
Level 6 Contributor
314 reviews
81 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 189 helpful votes
“Beautiful scenery and amazing amount of petrified wood.”
Reviewed May 27, 2014

First of all we did not do the loop, we hiked in from the grasslands to the west, which is the shortest route, and chose the left portion of the loop, hiking in and back the same way.

I found the maps and descriptions for this access point a little vague in my on-line searches. You can see the access road off of I94 on the maps, but I didn't think it was described very well. Once we got to the park and we checked the park newspaper, we saw that the maps showed the route more clearly and described the in and out hike option in more detail. Heading west on I94 you take exit #23 or the first exit after the last Medora exit. Turning right, you are immediately on a gravel road, which in some cases is much more rock than gravel. Most cars are going to do fine, but if you are motoring in your low clearance sports car, you might want to skip this drive/hike. The driving route is signed excellently, with small but very noticeable brown signs with white lettering indicating every turn you need to make. Basically, if you don't see a sign saying "Petrified Forest" with an arrow, don't turn off the main route. The actual newspaper map route road designations are 730A at the freeway exit, left on 730, right on 7302 and then 7303 and 7305, but those road markers are very small - stick with using the signs already mentioned. If a gully washer rainstorm is imminent or has just occurred, I might skip this one though, I don't know how well that road would hold up, especially for non-pickups or 4WDs.

After arriving at the trailhead, you go through a metal gate on the park border fence. Lift the gate up, don't try to push it. It will close on its own. There is a log in/out sheet in a metal box a few steps further up the trail, make sure to enter the time in and time out upon your return. The first part of the hike is through typical Badlands terrain up from the trailhead floor to a prairie plateau. Once you arrive at the prairie, about .5 miles in, you will be faced with a choice of right or left access to the petrified forest. If you do the whole thing it is a loop, with this as the start/end point. We chose left, and after a nice walk across this little prairie, we descended again into badlands, with the white colored petrified wood immediately visible in great quantities. The trail actually leads through another section of grasslands in the middle of the bowl, which has petrified wood almost all around it. At this point you can hike to and see as much of the petrified wood and other rock formations as you want to. The wood is in great abundance. This is not the spectacularly colored wood of Petrified Forest in Arizona, but is quite stunning in its own right. After getting our fill, we retraced our route back to the trailhead. There are periodic tall wood posts to mark the trail, and sometimes you have to have a keen eye to spot them, but at least for the route we took the trail is well worn by both humans and bison, so there's virtually no chance of getting lost. Our total hike was less than three miles round trip, and we saw plenty of petrified wood. Both my wife and I agreed that this was the high point of our trip to Teddy Roosevelt N.P.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank parksvisitor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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