I find centering your trip on a visit to Petrified Forest National Park strange. It's an unusual choice, as most people would visit it as it on the way to somewhere else. I'll tell you about my son and his family's visit there recently. The wait to do a short hike would be several hours, whereas the hike itself would take much less than an hour. They left and enjoyed the nearby rock shops more than the national park, and there were no lines in the rock shops. Besides the petrified logs, there is little there of interest.
The goal of most people visiting Arizona would be the Grand Canyon, a considerable distance further on to the west. Sedona just to GCNP's south could be combined in this visit as it is a very enjoyable place to visit.
Somewhat north of the Petrified Forest are several excellent places to visit. Canyon de Chelly N.M. is our favorite place in the American Southwest. It's on the Navajo Reservation and to enter the canyon you'll have to have a Navajo jeep driver/guide. It's highly scenic, and you enter the canyon by driving up a river. The Hopi Cultural Center is near the center of its reservation, and there you can get a Hopi driver/guide to show you one or two of America's oldest continuously inhabited places. A little further north then is Monument Valley, again on the Navajo Reservation. It's highly scenic and was featured in many old Western movies. Again, a Navajo driver/guide to show you the back country. Only if you have your own car, Chaco Culture National Historic Park is excellent as you probably don't even know such a magnificent place exists. Bad unpaved roads to it, no amenities, but well worth the trip.
Those are all excellent places to visit. Santa Fe is one of our favorite places in the US to visit. Plenty of nearby scenery coupled with the interesting cultural features of this small town.
I would not do a road trip from Ohio. It's a long drive both ways with little to see along the way until you get to the Rocky Mountains. Fly instead. For these places, Phoenix or Albuquerque would be a good place to fly to save you those long boring drives.Edited: 23 August 2021, 02:25
That will be a long road trip and at least two weeks. The benefit of a road trip, if time is not an issue and budget allows, is that you can meander around seeing a lot of the country.
If you are interested in Native American history and culture, there are two pueblos not previously mentioned (may or may not be open when you come due to covid) and they are Acoma Sky City https://www.acomaskycity.org/page/home (near Gallup NM) and
Taos Pueblo https://taospueblo.com/visiting-taos-pueblo/ (Near Taos - maybe an hour and half drive from Santa Fe) I don't now when you are planning this trip but both of these pueblo communities are closed now.
For a cross country road trip I suggest you visit https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Trips.html
Santa Fe is a beautiful city where I have visited many times staying at La Fonda on the Plaza. This hotel is steps from the Plaza and several attractions.
PFNP is not my favorite np. Know that it isn't a forest but logs lying on the ground. You should stay at the historic hotel La Posada in nearby Winslow, Arizona.Edited: 23 August 2021, 03:04
What they said. PFNP is a minor destination in northern AZ. You’ll need about 4-6 hours there and a stay at LaPosada in nearby Winslow would be advised.
I’ll agree that the drive from Ohio is mostly miserable. Fly to ALB or PHX and include time at Sedona and Grand Canyon National Park and Santa Fe and Taos NM you’ll need a solid 2 weeks just for this loop. Add a third week if you decide to drive from OH.
Thanks so much!
Thank u so much.
#3 mentioned visiting pueblos. Be aware that at least Taos completely closes to visitors if there has been a death. You won't even get close enough to see the pueblo.
For a road trip, with the exception of the Black Hills, there is little before the Rockies. The best I can think of is visiting the St. Louis area. There's the Arch (which you can go up in) and at its foot the museum associated with Lewis & Clark and westward expansion, and you can visit the Budweiser factory for a tour. Also the Mississippi River front is semi-interesting. But Cahokia Mounds across the river in Illinois is excellent. You've probably never heard of it as Americans try to portray Indians as backwards people. (I never heard of it growing up in Illinois!) This city of about 30-40,000 people had huge mounds of earth constructed much like the Aztec pyramids, From its official website: "One of the greatest cities of the world, Cahokia was larger than London was in AD 1250." It has a time line similar to mysterious Chaco Canyon.Edited: 23 August 2021, 05:56
Oh, I should mention that Chaco Canyon which I mentioned in my first post is thought to be the ancestral home of pueblo people, the Hopis, and the Zunis. People gradually left it moving elsewhere to those places, closing up the openings of these huge pueblo buildings as they left. Some also migrated to Mesa Verde. But the whole place is an enigma. The buildings were sited based on astronomical events including the solstices and the moon was also used for alignment besides the sun 30 feet wide long roads were common but their use was probably more religious than practical as they didn't have horses or the wheel. Large tree trunks were carried by hand for 50-90 miles to construct the huge buildings. With the study of tree rings, when and where the trees were cut is known to the exact year. This with Cahokia Mounds and Mesa Verde would be excellent to visit for ancient Native American culture. Then also visit the modern places where Native Americans now live that I mentioned previously, and also the pueblo villages of New Mexico.
Thanks! We r very interested in the Native American Indian culture. We weren’t aware of the mounds. Sounds interesting.