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Painted Desert Rim Trail

Distance1.33 mi
Elevation Gain52 ft
My Time30 min
Closest TownGallup
Food NearbyEl Rancho

Painted Desert Rim Trail

The Painted Desert Rim Trail is one of the closest and most popular trails in the Petrified Forest National Park. The trail is very easy and I think anyone should be able to enjoy it and it has views of some of the most beautiful rock formations I have ever seen.

The Trail

The Desert Rim Trail stretches between the Tawa Parking lot and Kachina Point. It is only a total of 1.33 miles round trip between the two points and the trail is really easy to navigate. The trail passes along the rim of the mesa and the views are pretty amazing.

The view from the Painted Desert Rim Trail.  Pink and red hills stretch out for miles.  The picture is taken from above on top of the ridge.

From a technical standpoint there really isn’t too much to say about this hike. There are only 52 feet of elevation gain. The trail is typically about four to six feet wide so easy for two people to walk side by side. The views are pretty much non stop.

Another view from the Painted Desert Rim Trail. This one is also taken from above and shows pink and white rock formations below.

The only warning that I can give you about this hike is that the wind can come up from the valley and blow pretty hard at the top of the mesa. This happened on both of my trips to the Petrified Forest National Park. Also, since there isn’t much to talk about from a hiking perspective…did I mention the views?

A wide shot from the top of the mesa shows how far the rock formations expand from the Painted Desert Rim Trail.

As you get to the Painted Desert Inn and Kachina Point the hike is pretty much over. The Inn was closed on this trip due to Covid precautions so I couldn’t explore it at all. However, the view from Kachina point is also very nice.

A wide shot from Kachina Point on the Painted Desert Rim Trail.  A large peak looms in the background and below that are red hills.

After the Inn, it is time to head back to Tawa Point and enjoy the short hike again!

Bonus Video

As I told you I am experimenting with video on this trip. Here is a break down on the Painted Desert Rim Trail. Today’s experiment is adding some commentary! I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get updates when I post. Enjoy!

Fancy Edit

Hiker Edit

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 1.33 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 52 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 5,856 feet. This was actually at the parking area as the trail headed down. I was also moving for a total of 30 minutes.

I am a Pro member of AllTrails and love it. If you are interested in the platform, please consider using my affiliate link for AllTrails. It gives me a small commission with no extra cost to you.


Nothing really much to this one and I think it is a hike that almost everyone will be able to enjoy. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.

The step count on the Painted Desert Rim Trail according to my Fitbit was 2,868 steps.


This is a very well developed dirt trail. There isn’t much to trip you up other than a few rocks. I think even a decent pair of shoes will be enough on this one.


The Painted Desert Rim trail is part of the Petrified Forest National Park. There is a $25 entry fee per vehicle to get into the park, or you could buy a yearly pass. The Painted Desert Rim Trail is located at the Tawa Point pull off and connects to the Painted Desert Inn pull off. This is one of the earliest pull offs at the park.

Wrapping up the Painted Desert Rim Trail

Wow, what a pretty place. This is one of those hikes that was nice and short and allowed me to focus all of my energy on the amazing views around me. I wish it was a bit more sunny on the day that I went to really show off the colors. As it was they were still magnificent and something I am very glad I was able to see.

Not much to the hike at all either which means people of all skill levels should be able to enjoy this trip to the Painted Desert.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

6 thoughts on “Painted Desert Rim Trail”

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