After visiting the underwhelming Rainbow Forest in Petrified Forest National Park, I’m glad we decided to go hiking on the Blue Mesa Trail! If you’re visiting with kids or during hot weather you’ll want to keep reading!
I’ve got more information about the hiking trails at the bottom of this post. Hiking on the Blue Mesa Trail was BY FAR our entire family’s most favorite experience in the Petrified Forest National Park BUT it wasn’t easy!
A short one mile trail, the Blue Mesa trail is one you can’t get lost on! It literally takes a steep (and I mean STEEP!) path down into a valley, goes in a circle, then back up the same trail you came in on.
Hiking is nothing new for my family but we had been in the car driving on Route 66 for a week and were pretty tired so I decided to grab the umbrella stroller for my 4 year old in case she got tired. After all, it was well over 100* out so it was crazy hot!
The path getting down into the Blue Mesa trail is partially gravel as you see above and partially paved. If you have kids, or are with someone not perfectly steady on their feet, you’ll want to know there are some dangerous drop offs if you’re not careful on the path.
I felt completely comfortable with my 10 and 12 year old boys, but less comfortable with my 4 year old so I asked her to sit in the stroller……until I realized that the grade decline was SO steep on the gravel path with extremely narrow tight switchbacks that it was more unsafe for her to be sitting in the stroller for fear she would fall out should the stroller tip – which it did.
We were determined to make it down into the trail but it was a bit scary for me as I’m skittish of heights – especially with small children. I ended up carrying the umbrella stroller over my shoulder and holding my daughter by the hand until we got down to level paved areas of the trail.
As you can see the views are phenomenal! The “blue” (it looked more purple sometimes) hills were like hiking through the Badlands. But let me tell you – it was H.O.T.! There was NO breeze or airflow being surrounded by tightly packed hills.
We didn’t bring our water bottles because we figured it was only a 1 mile trail – no big deal. Boy were we wrong! We absolutely should have brought water down with us to help offset the stifling heat.
I snapped pictures left and right not really knowing what I was even doing because it was so hot and sunny. I’m glad I did though because as you can see the views are outstanding! It’s not a bad idea to have sunglasses with you either!
Although the trail is relatively short getting in and out of the trailhead is a bit of a beast and one that you’ll want to be prepared for! Once you get get down into the “circle” part of the trail you’re on relatively flat pavement as you can see below.
There are no benches down there though and it was was ROASTING heat so there was no way we were going to pop a squat on the trail to rest! So we just took it slow at first to get our legs acclimated back to the trail.
You can see above that the trail is relatively easy for a stroller once you get down there. Thankfully my boys helped me out because I was pretty wiped! But check out that view! Seriously one of the most amazing national park scenic views I’ve seen!
It was a quiet lovely trail where you felt 100% surrounded by solid scenic beauty. Just remember though, that steep decline to get down into the trail becomes your steep incline to get out of the trail! Take your time – you’ll need it!
What trails are at the Petrified Forest National Park?
- Painted Desert Rim Trail
- Puerco Pueblo
- Blue Mesa
- Crystal Forest
- Giant Logs
- Long Logs
- Agate House
You can learn more about each trail on the National Park Service page.
There are TWO entrances into Petrified Forest National Park. YES TWO!
There is an entrance off of I-40 and and entrance on 180. The visitors center and trails we wanted to hit were ALL off of 180. Since we were on our way up to Holbrook it worked out great. We started on this hiking trail and next time I will definitely skip it!