After Meteor Crater we continued on I-40 East towards the Petrified Forest. It was an easy drive with white fluffy clouds for miles.
We stayed overnight in the parking lot of the Crystal Forest Museum & Gifts. There were no hookups but it was free and right at the entrance to the Petrified Forest. We arrived after the museum was closed but the Petrified Forest Gift Shop across the street was still open.
The gift shop had a lot of petrified wood including some very large and very expensive pieces in the thousands! One thing we noticed was there were a lot of cars parked in front of the gift shop, but when we went inside there were only a few people. When we left and headed back to the motorhome we looked more closely at the cars parked in front of the gift shop and noticed that most of them were old cars that didn’t run. Some of the tires were flat and the cars didn’t have licenses plates, but they made it look like the gift shop was busy. Sneaky!
The next morning we once again woke up to more snow than forecasted, but it was only a few inches so we weren’t concerned about the roads. At 8 AM the gates at the entrance of the Petrified Forest opened and shortly after 8:30 AM we were on the road.
We passed the entrance gates and were on our way when a car headed towards us flagged us down and told us the inside gates were closed. What? That didn’t make sense. The entrance gates were opened so why would the inside gates be closed? We thought this couple must have been mistaken but even if they were correct we had no choice but to continue on. We couldn’t flip around on this narrow road especially since we had the tow dolly.
We continued on and eventually reached the Visitor Center and then the inside gates. Yep, the gates were closed. I called the Petrified Forest park number and the gentleman said yes the park was closed due to the amount of snow the park had received overnight and because the snow was forecasted to continue over the next few days.
Dang! The AZ winter storm had struck again. Luckily there was a big enough area for us to turn around and head back the way we came. The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert are definitely on our list of places to visit next time we are travelling through AZ.