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Overnight in the Devil’s Playground
Camping in One of Petrified Forest National Park’s Most Extraordinary Landscapes
October 27 @ 12:00 pm – October 28 @ 5:00 pm MST
Instructor: Christa Sadler, MS
Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most interesting places in the world. The deposits of petrified wood and the colorful rocks tell an incredible story of this region as it was more than 200 million years ago. Ancient peoples have called this place home for hundreds of years. And desert plants and animals have adapted beautifully to life in this arid land. Plus, Petrified Forest is also one of the most beautiful and fantastical landscapes anywhere!
Join paleontologist and naturalist Christa Sadler in this very special class as we backpack to the little-visited Devil’s Playground and camp under the amazing night skies of the park (we will have almost a full moon, too!). Devil’s Playground is only accessible to a few people every year. It is an absolutely extraordinary landscape of bizarre eroded rock, hoodoos, and badlands, and spending the night there will give us even more of a chance to explore the area’s geology, paleontology, history, flora, and fauna—and whatever other surprises we discover!
We will meet at the Painted Desert Visitor Center at the north end of the park for introductions, a gear check, and an overview of the region and of the park’s unique environments and history. From here, we will carpool to the trailhead to reach Devil’s Playground. High-clearance vehicles are recommended but not required, and four-wheel drive is not necessary.
We will hike between three and five miles until we find a place to set up a base camp from which we can explore the area with daypacks only. Our total route over the two days of our class will be anywhere from 8 to 15 miles, depending on how much exploring we want to do.
- Meeting time: Noon (Arizona/MST time) Please bring your lunch so that we can eat during the orientation.
- Trip length: Anywhere from 8 to 15 miles, with negligible elevation change.
- Difficulty: Moderate; there are some steep and scrambly areas, and there is no actual trail for the bulk of the route. Participants need to be in good physical shape, with the ability to do some scrambling and to carry at least 25 pounds.
You will need to provide:
- Backpack that fits (don’t borrow your six-foot-tall husband’s pack if you are 5’3″)
- Sleeping bag (summer bag may be okay, depending on the weather)
- Sleeping pad
- Ground cloth
- Tent (optional depending on the weather. Groundcloth can be rigged with cord for shelter instead). Make sure your tent has stakes!
- Three to four liters of water capacity. You can bring a bladder, but it is also nice to have at least one bottle for use in camp. Make sure that whatever you bring can be accessible during the day for drinking, and can translate easily to your daypack.
- Small fannypack or daypack for day hiking
- Cookstove (share per two or three people)
- Lightweight cook pot and utensils
- Stove fuel/fuel canister and lighter
- Minor first aid (“ouch pouch”), your instructor will have a large kit
- Walking sticks
- Liner socks to avoid blisters
- Camp shoes
- Long-sleeved shirt, long pants (sun and rock protection)
- Make sure you have a hat
- Light cold weather jacket and pants
- Rain top and pants if the weather calls for it (check beforehand – rain jacket is good for wind protection)
- Pocket knife
- Toilet paper (partial roll)
- Ziplock plastic bag or two for small items
- Soap/hand sanitizer (there will be no water out there, so this is only for washing hands)
- Camera and binoculars
- Headlamp (better than a flashlight, so that you can have your hands free)
- You are responsible for all your own food. If you don’t want to cook dinner and breakfast because you don’t want to bring a stove, that’s fine. You can bring whatever you like for your food; just make sure that it gives you enough energy to go exploring!
- Water will be cached near where we will camp before the trip, so you will not need to carry all the water you’ll need for two days. You should, however, be able to carry at least four liters in your pack so that we have plenty to work with.
- Late October is a beautiful time of year in the desert, but it can be chilly at night, and we could get an early fall storm. To make sure that you bring the right clothing and gear, please check the weather reports a day or two before the trip.
- $245 – Non-Member
- $210 – Member *Learn more at PFMA site
Maximum number of participants: 8
Age restriction: Adults only (over 15, unless with special permission)