One of the best hikes in Petrified Forest National Park.


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Blue Mesa is regarded as one of the best hikes in Petrified Forest National Park.

On this short loop, you'll get to view the beautiful petrified logs set with a backdrop of bluish bentonite clay hills.

These hills are particularly beautiful when the rising or setting sun casts long, low-angle rays across the landscape. The hike begins with a short but steep descent from the trailhead down into the bottomlands.

The entire trail tread is a maintained paved surface, meaning that the hike is entirely non-technical.

However, the initial descent (and subsequent climb at the end) is plenty steep.

But once down in the bottom, you'll hike a flat, scenic loop through the towering bentonite hills, gaining a new perspective of the area around every corner. These "towering hills [are] banded by colorful layers of silts, sands, and gravels left behind by massive Triassac-age river systems that more than 200 million years ago left sedimentary deposits upwards of 1,000 feet deep across the landscape," according to Kurt Repanshek on [](

Numerous fossils have been discovered in this area by paleontologists. Once you've complete the lower loop, it's a short but steep grunt back to the top of the ridge and the trailhead where you began.