Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Quick Facts

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Arizona

(928) 526-0502

Map Directions

Things To Do

     

Overview

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. 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.

Map of Sunset Crater Volcano

Latitude, Longitude: 35.366376, -111.510887

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Activities

  • Camping

    There is no camping in the monument. However, Bonito Campground, operated by the US Forest Service, is located across from the visitor center at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This campground is generally open from late May through mid-October. There are no hook-ups.

  • Hiking

    Allow at least 1 hour to stop at the Visitor Center and hike the Lava FLow Trail. If you have additional time, hike the Lenox Crater Trail, or enjoy the view from the Cinder Hills Overlook. Use extreme caution when hiking - lava is sharp, brittle, and unstable; cinders are slippery underfoot.

    Lava Flow Trail is a 1-mile (1.6km) loop trail with a .25 mile (.4km) 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 (1.6km) round trip and requires about 30 minutes up and 15 minutes down!

    Backcountry hiking is not allowed in order to protect fragile geological and archeological features. Please stay on designated trails.

    You can also hike to O'Leary Peak on a 7-mile (11.2km) Forest Service trail.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic sites available!

Seasonality/Weather

Scenic drive and trails are open all year, from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open all year, except December 25.

Directions

Driving

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 visitor center.

Flying

Nearest airport is located in Flagstaff, AZ.

Public Transportation

For additional information on transportation services contact the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 1-800-842-7293.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(928) 526-0502

Lost & found

(928) 526-0502

Campground reservations

(928) 526-0866

Links