Agate House, Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot, Petrified Forest National Park - Painted Desert, Arizona
Agate House - 1.55 miles
Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot
|Round-Trip Length:||1.55 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,459' - 5,500' (5,500' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+41' net elevation gain (+78' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Agate House - 1.55 Miles Round-Trip
The Agate House was built between 1050 and 1300 A.D., possibly by transient farmers or traders as a temporary home. A dearth of artifacts lead researchers to believe the 8-room pueblo's occupancy time was brief, and little is known about the original inhabitants and why they may have abandoned it. Distinguishing this dwelling's remains from others in the region is its uncommon construction materials - petrified wood sealed with mud mortar.
Portions have been reconstructed, and in recent years the Park Service has called their accuracy into question. Nevertheless, these thought-provoking remains provide insight into the lives of indigenous people, unique environmental challenges they faced and innovate use of available resources.
To reach the Agate House, follow the sign and road leading out of the Rainbow Forest Museum's Parking Lot to the Agate House Trail access (.1 miles away). En route you'll cross over Jim Camp Wash.
The Agate House Trail (interchangeably recognized as the Long Logs Trail) officially begins at the marked cement gateway on the east side of Jim Camp Wash.
From the cement gate, a paved trail rises gently amid colorful petrified wood remains, badland formations and small brush. The area's abundance of petrified wood - and absence of much else- make it clear why this was the building material of choice.
The .25 mile paved trail section ends in a cul de sac from which 2 spur trails emanate: both of these are labeled as the Long Logs Trail.
The first spur trail off to the right - which is well marked - is the most direct path to the Agate House. This trail (now a groomed dirt path) continues on a mild grade for .45 miles to the Agate House remains (5,500').
The pueblo's two remaining structures can be viewed up close, though it's illegal to climb on, in or alter anything in the vicinity. On the return, consider exploring the Long Logs Loop Trail, an easy walk through attractive badland formations and intact petrified logs.
- N34 48.901 W109 51.955 — 0.0 Miles: Rainbow Forest Parking Area
- It should be noted that one of the re-created structures is no longer considered verifiably accurate by the US National Park Service.
- Confusing to some is the visible connector trail that connects the Agate House Trail segment with the Long Logs Loop Trail at their approximate mid-points. This connector trail is intended as a short cut for visitors seeking the shortest route for hiking both trails. Nominal elevation changes and distances make this short cut unnecessary, though it is a viable option.
- Be cognizant of threatening skies, as storms can move in quickly and lightning strikes are common, especially during August monsoons.
Rules and Regulations
- Do not sit or lean on the structures - they are fragile.
- Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park. Rules are strictly enforced and violators are subject to significant penalties.
- Pets are permitted on maintained trails, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not allowed within Wilderness Areas, nor on the Wilderness Access Trail near The Painted Desert Inn. Pets are not allowed in buildings unless they are service animals.
Directions to Trailhead
From the Park's north entrance station, follow Park Road 26 miles to the Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot (west side of road).
Form the Park's south entrance station, follow Park Road 2 miles to the Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot.
Travel by foot east - out of the parking lot - over the Jim Camp Wash Bridge. The trailhead is located just over the bridge.
Petrified Forest National Park
1 Park Road
P.O. Box 2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028
928 524.3567 (fax)