The Painted Desert

For an unforgettable encounter with Arizona nature, enter into The Painted Desert, a living painting. Hike among this vast landscape of rocks in every hue.

For an unforgettable encounter with Arizona nature, enter into the Painted Desert, where art comes to life. A broad region of rocky badlands encompassing more than 93,500 acres, this vast landscape features rocks in every hue – from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges, and pinks. It’s like you’ve been transported into a painting. Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from the Grand Canyon National Park eastward to the Petrified Forest National Park, with a large portion lying within the Navajo Nation.

History & Nature

A natural canvas millions of years in the making, no one event shaped the Painted Desert. Instead, the area is evidence of Earth’s volatility. Home to some of the nation’s most memorable formations and features, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and sunlight, all combined to create the Painted Desert. Deposits of clay and sandstone, stacked in elegant layers, reflects the setting Arizona sun in an altering display of colorful radiance. A remarkable sight that helps make Northern Arizona so unique and picturesque.

The Navajo and Hopi people have lived in this region for hundreds of years, but it was Spanish Colonialists who gave it the name we know it by today – El Desierto Pintado.

Things To Do

Explore a small section of the Painted Desert that is located in the Petrified Forest National Park, just off Interstate 40 around 25 miles east of Holbrook – to get in touch with the natural landscape.

See the beautiful color striations of rock formations and mesas. For the quintessential Painted Desert experience, don’t miss the sunset – it’s when the rocks morph into an awe-inspiring canvas of fiery color.

For more information on the area, be sure to visit the Painted Desert Visitor Center.

Hotels, Lodging & Camping

The Painted Desert’s colorful strokes stretch across Northern Arizona, and there are plenty of places to stay along the way. For weekend getaways or overnight road trips, hotels in Flagstaff or Winslow provide a great jumping-off point. You can also find lodging and cabin rentals in Holbrook.

Campgrounds are also common in the area, particularly within the national park and area roadside RV parks and campgrounds.

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