Horseback Riding in Petrified Forest National Park
Horseback riding in Petrified Forest is limited mostly to the wilderness area (paved roads and trails are off-limits), but that doesn't mean it's a limiting experience. There are no outfitters in the park who provide horses or guides, but you can load/unload and park your trailer on the northwest side of Painted Desert Inn, 2 mi north of the Painted Desert Visitor Center.
There are no maintained trails in this section of the park, but riders are advised to stick to dry washes as much as possible so as to minimize impact to the fragile desert ecosystem. The first switchback into the Wilderness Area is steep, sometimes unstable, and often exposed; so some riders lead their horses down on foot. But once you reach the desert floor, the grade is relatively flat and easy to ride. If you decide to camp overnight, there is no fee, but a free permit is required and available at either visitor center. A designated zone north of Lithodendron Wash is set aside for camping, though no campsites are maintained. Group camping is limited to eight people and four horses.
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