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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Flagstaff Area National Monuments - SUCR
6400 N. Hwy 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Phone: 928-526-0502

Explore Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

From Flagstaff, take U.S 89 north for 12 miles, turn right on the Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles to the visitor center.

People must have been warned by tremors and earthquakes before red-hot rocks exploded from the ground and rained down on their pit houses and farmland. Perhaps some stayed to watch as their homes and farmland were buried under slow-moving lava flows. Most fled, taking their possessions with them.

Billowing ash, falling cinders, and forest fires blackened the land and the daytime sky. At night, the horizon glowed fiery red. A large fire fountain, accompanied by lightning and a tremendous roar, could be seen and heard for hundreds of miles. It must have been the loudest noise these people had ever experienced.

When their world again grew quiet, people faced a dramatically altered land. New mountains, including the 1,000-foot-high cinder cone now known as Sunset Crater, stood where open meadows and forests had been. Black cinders blanketed the region.

Life in the shadow of the volcano was changed profoundly and forever. Some people relocated nearby at Walnut Canyon or Wupatki.

900 years later, Sunset Crater is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The volcano's red rim and the dark lava flows seem to have cooled and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. As plants return, so do the animals that use them for food and shelter. And so do human visitors, intrigued by this opportunity to see nature�s response to a volcanic eruption.

Hike one of the two trails or stop and take in a program given by park rangers. Allow at least 1 hour to stop at the Visitor Center and hike the Lava FLow Trail. To hike the Lenox Crater cinder cone allow an additional 45 minutes.

Lava Flow Trail is a 1-mile loop trail with a .25 mile accessible loop. It is a self-guided trail exploring a variety of volcanic formations.

The Lenox Crater Trail provides an opportunity to climb a cinder cone. This steep trail is 1-mile round trip and requires about 30 minutes up and 15 minutes down!

Please stay on designated trails. Backcountry hiking is not allowed in order to protect fragile natural resources. Use extreme caution hiking near lava - it is sharp, brittle, and unstable.

Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. They are not allowed in buildings or on park trails.

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