sunset crater volcano national monument
sunset crater volcano national monument

If you are ever in the Flagstaff area you need to check out Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This amazing geological formation is located just north of Flagstaff on 89N. Plan to spend an afternoon exploring this amazing park. 

sunset crater volcano

You actually get 2 parks for the price of 1 at the entrance. You will also get to visit the Wupakti National Monument with the loop of the national park. Not only will you see lava flows, but you will get to see ancient pueblos. 

lava flow

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

As you enter the national park you will drive through the forest until you start to see massive rocks from the lava flows from the eruption that happened in approximately 1085. There are actually 2 ancient volcanoes that you will get to see, Sunset Crater (reaching 1,000 feet tall) and Lennox Crater (reaching 300 feet tall). 

lennox crater volcano

When Sunset Crater Volcano erupted it created a plume of fire that reached 850 feet. This massive eruption sent massive lava block and lava bombs all along the landscape. Lava continued to pour over the land to create lava flows. As the lava and rocks cooled this created the rocky surface that we can see today. 

The plants that you see around the park only started to grow back 500 years ago. You will notice in areas that new soil is still forming along the land. The growth of this new soil is a very gradual and delicate process. Because of the delicate process rangers urge visitors to stay on the designated trails. 

Wupakti National Monument

wupakti national monument

As you drive along the loop past the volcanoes you will notice a drastic change in landscape. You will red rock and miles of prairie with the highlands of Arizona in the distance. This landscape is part of Wupakti National Monument. 


You will take a trip back in time as you visit see the ancient sedimentary rocks of Wupakti dated all the way back to the Permian and early to middle triassic periods (252 million years ago).

wupakti pueblo

Visit any of the 6 pueblos located in Wupakti. Wupakti Pueblo is the largest of these pueblos with 100 rooms. These pueblos are 900 years old. Some native americans continue to live in stone pueblos today. Visiting these pueblos gives us a little glimpse into life 900 years ago. 

If you are a geology or history nerd these two parks are the place for you. You could easily spend the entire day going back in time to our ancient world. 

sunset crater national monument

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  1. This is going on my “to do list”, what a beautiful place to explore. Thanks for sharing all of those beautiful photos with us.

  2. This looks absolutely amazing! I’ll have to remember this if we ever are near Flagstaff!

  3. My friend lives in AZ. I will mention this to her. I would love to visit it someday. I love seeing natural historical landmarks!

  4. It looks like a beautiful park! Would love to visit someday!

  5. I had no ideas some pueblos had so many rooms. Thanks so much for the photographic tour. Definitely adding this park on our list of places to see in Arizona.

  6. I’ve never heard of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument before now. It looks beautiful though! What a fun place to see!

  7. This is really pretty. Almost reminds me of a ski resort.

  8. This is a great educational experience too. Thank you for sharing your experience and photos.

  9. What a gorgeous park. I love the snow on the hills. Definitely looks like a fun place to go to with kids.

  10. I had no idea that this place existed. It looks like it would be an amazing experience with so much to see.

  11. Wow, I have actually been to Wupatki, many years ago. What a neat place to explore! This is such a great area to check out.

  12. WOW! How beautiful is that snow!!! Looks like a fun day out.

  13. It looks like quite an adventure to be had.

  14. Wow! This is amazing and beautiful. Though it would be nice to visit, we’re staying far away from trips to volcanoes and mountains because of the recent news of volcanoes suddenly erupting without any warning just like the recent incident in New Zealand and the Philippines.

  15. The place is so stunning. Would love to visit one day 🙂

  16. […] road trip. This guide helped us so much. Had I not read this book I would have never known about Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument or about many of the other little places we stopped along the way. A good guide can be a valuable […]

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