Agate Bridge – Easy to See

Agate Bridge stretching across the wash on top of its concrete support, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Agate Bridge stretching across the wash on top of its concrete support

Agate Bridge sounds a lot more exciting than the reality in southern Petrified Forest National Park.  If you’re into hiking, you’d be better off spending your time in the Crystal Forest or hiking the Blue Forest Route (or if you’d rather have a trail, the Blue Mesa Trail).  But if you happen to be passing by, it’s not a long trek (300ft. RT), so it’s a fun little stop to see “preservation” at work when it comes to petrified wood that stretches across a wash.

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 0.05 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Gain: 10ft. Pets: Leashed Fees: $25/vehicle
The sign talking about the history of the sunshade structure near Agate Bridge, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
The sign talking about the history of the sunshade structure

From the parking area, walk toward the slightly odd stone building.  Exhibits explain how it was built for early visitors as a sunshade, then it was bricked up and used as a bathroom (you can still see where the pipes were covered over in the floor), and finally unbricked to see what is there today.  The evidence of all this remodeling is what makes it look a little… different.  Continue through the structure and down the paved pathway toward the viewpoint at the end.

Agate Bridge from the viewpoint area, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Agate Bridge from the viewpoint area

Once at the viewpoint, look over on the right into the wash and you’ll see Agate Bridge.  The petrified log spanning the approximately 40ft. wash and about 16ft. above the wash floor is held up by a concrete beam… which is why it’s not quite as exciting as it sounds.

Agate Bridge from below (I walked beyond the viewpoint), Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Agate Bridge from below (I walked beyond the viewpoint)

In the early 1900s, Agate Bridge (which is named for the nearby Agate Mesa) was a popular stop for tourists.  The railroad, fearing that the bridge would collapse as the wash continued to slowly wash away, built masonry supports under it in 1903.  Eight years later, they replaced the masonry with concrete.  The current beam was constructed in 1917 by the railroad, though the US government paid the $1,700 necessary for the concrete and labor.  But hey, it’s still a bridge, and it’s still pretty neat to see!

Looking straight across Agate Bridge, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Looking straight across Agate Bridge

You’re not allowed to walk across the bridge, but I did scramble down into the wash and explored a short portion of it upstream from the bridge.  It’s interesting if not especially notable.

Looking down the wash to Agate Bridge, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Looking down the wash to Agate Bridge

And that’s a wrap!  You can hike back to your vehicle and continue exploring Petrified Forest National Park!

Rock formations in the wash above Agate Bridge, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Rock formations in the wash above Agate Bridge

Round Trip Trail Length: 300ft.

Elevation Gain: 10ft. (5,590ft. to 5,581ft.)

Facilities: A few informational signs

Fees: $25/vehicle, valid 7 days.  America the Beautiful National Parks & Federal Lands passes and Petrified Forest Annual Passes are accepted.

Trail Notes: This is a really short, quick, easy hike.  If it was super long, it wouldn’t be worth the hike IMO, but with the short distance, it’s definitely worth the quick jaunt down to the viewpoint.  Remember, don’t vandalize or walk on the Agate Bridge.

The other side of Agate Bridge (closeup via a zoom lens), Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
The other side of Agate Bridge (closeup via a zoom lens)

Trail ★★★★★

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★★☆

Scenery ★★☆☆☆

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Views downstream to Agate Bridge, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Views downstream to Agate Bridge

GPS Coordinates for Agate Bridge

TH: 34.892436, -109.794361 (5,589ft.) (0.0)

Agate Bridge Overlook: 34.892652, -109.794003 (5,581ft.) (150ft.)

The gpx file for Agate Bridge can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 1.1 KB Downloaded 0 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Visual map and elevation profile for the short path to Agate Bridge.  It felt like a steeper path than 10ft. of elevation change! Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Visual map and elevation profile for the short path to Agate Bridge. It felt like a steeper path than 10ft. of elevation change!

Getting to Agate Bridge

From the Rainbow Forest Museum (the visitor center in the southern part of the park/the place where the road seems to go through a parking lot), drive north on the main park road.  After 8.2 miles, turn right onto the road that will lead you to the Agate Bridge parking area.  This turn is 17.6 miles from the main park visitor center up in the northern part of the park.

If you happen to hike with kids in Arizona…

…check out this guide!  It’s chock-full of kid-friendly, fun, and beautiful hikes around the state.  Buy your copy here.

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