Here, past meets present. Pueblos and cliff dwellings are so well preserved that it's hard to believe their builders moved on 700 years ago. Amid lava and cinders, one can imagine a landscape still hot to the touch. Welcome to the Flagstaff Area National Monuments!
There is something for everyone: prehistoric cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon, the mountain scenery and geology of Sunset Crater Volcano, and the painted desert landscape and masonry pueblos of Wupatki National Monument.
Ancient Indians undoubtedly witnessed the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano in A.D.1064-1065 which blanketed the region with black cinder. Today the volcano's rim of red cinders and the lava flows near the cone seem to have cooled and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. Squeeze-ups and hornitos are just two of the fascinating volcanic features you'll encounter while exploring the park. To protect this fragile resource, Sunset Crater Volcano is closed to climbing and hiking. However, other cinder cones in the area may be climbed.
Sunset Crater Volcano is often confused with another nearby attraction, Meteor Crater. At Sunset Crater Volcano you will see a cinder cone rising 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Meteor Crater, located 35 miles east of Flagstaff on I-40, is an impact crater measuring over 500 feet deep and 1 mile across.
Another easy stop on the drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, this is just outside of Flagstaff, and is easily seen in an hour. It has a nice hike through a lava flow and to the base of a cinder cone. With the deep blue skies of Northern Arizona, it is a great place for pictures among the tall pines and dark lava rocks.
Basic Information on Sunset Crater Volcano
Operating Hours, Seasons
The park is open year round. The Visitor Center is open daily except Christmas Day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with extended hours possible during the summer season. REMINDER: ARIZONA IS ON MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME YEAR ROUND
How to Get to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Nearest Airport to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument - Nearest Airport is Phoenix and Flagstaff
How to Drive to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
- From Flagstaff, take U.S 89 north for 12 miles (19km), turn right on
the Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles (3km) to the
Weather & Climate
Be prepared for abrupt weather changes in any season. Expect windy conditions most of the year. Spring is usually mild, but heavy snowfall can occur. Summer days are warm with temperatures in the 80s. Afternoon thunderstorms are likely July to September. In winter, snow and freezing temperatures alternate with mild weather.
The Visitor Center is accessible to wheelchairs.
Camping at Sunset Crater Volcano National
The campground is located across from the Visitor Center and is generally open from late May through mid-October. Maximum vehicle size is 35 feet, no hook-ups.
Activities and More Information on Sunset
Crater Volcano National Monument
Go on a Hike:
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 Lenex Crater cinder cone allow an additional 45 minutes.
Lava Flow Trail is a 1-mile (1.6km) loop trail with a 1/4 mile (500m) cutoff. 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 (1.6km) round trip and requires about 30 minutes up and 15 minutes down!
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