Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Camping at a Gift Shop

It was getting late in the day as I roamed through the Petrified Forest National Park. I needed to start thinking about where I was going to spend the night. I asked a Park Ranger about camping nearby. He told me the National Park didn't have a campground, but there were 2 large private owned gift shops at the South end of the park that offered free camping. Free camping always appeals to me as long as it is in a safe place and no regulations against it. I decided to check it out.

As I approached the exit to the park, there they were, just as the Ranger had described. They are on opposite sides of the road. As far as I could tell they had both closed for the day, perhaps even for the season. It appeared I would be the only camper, which was ok with me. After looking the situation over, I couldn't tell if this was 2 separate business or one business spread out on both sides of the road.  The signs indicated 2 business, The Peterfied Forest and the Crystal Forest,yet the design, layout etc. appeared they were one. That part was confusing, but not important for free camping.

I picked the one with the tepees. There were even electric hook-ups. Perhaps they do charge  a fee for the electric if campers prefer a hook-up. 

During my tripping I have stayed at National, and  State parks...National Forest, BLM, Wall-Mart, truck-stops, ferry landings, privately owned campgrounds and probably others, but never a gift shop. This was a first, and if you are at the Petrified Forest and in need of some sleep, I highly recommend the gift shop or shops whichever the case may be.

Both gift shops are visible in this picture

The campsites even had a huge stumps of the petrified wood at each site

The next morning this rabbit was trying to get a drink  in the parking lot, there really wasn't any water there but it was moist.


  1. You can find so many of these petrified trees all over the area. Quite a few places selling them in Holbrook.

  2. Jo
    I noticed the places selling the wood and wondered where they were getting an endless supply. Is it on top of the ground or do they have to dig and uncover it? I researched a little about the cutting and polishing of this and it appears time consuming. I can see why their prices would be high.

  3. I have boondocked a lot over the years and never thought about looking at gift shops.

  4. Just found ur blog. Very interesting. Keep it up.

  5. Hi Janet - I just stumbled upon your blog too. As I read your profile I found myself thinking "this Janet is so cool!". I admire your "make it work for me attitude". It is so refreshing! I read lots of rv blogs and I'm often amazed that so many full-timers seem to follow some sort of standardized "recipe for success" like buying a huge 5th-wheel or motorhome and then re-live the same suburban life on the road that they had in a house. Rving for them is a house-on-wheels. Of course that's fine if that's what they want. I appreciate your willingness to think outside the box and share another way to address your desire to wander.

  6. Pretty awesome petrified wood chunks. Have you grabbed one? Hehe. Anyway, this place seems a good campsite. Those gift shops are quite interesting. Thanks for sharing this information to us. Hope you'll chronicle more about your road trip and camping adventures pretty soon in this blog. Cheers!

  7. Hi,

    Just checking in on your travels, hope you are doing okay. Great tip! Keep up the good job on your blog.