Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is near Wupatki National Monument just outside of Flagstaff, AZ.  It is estimated that Sunset Crater last erupted sometime between 1080 and 1100.

Sunset Crater Volcano

There are several short trails within the park.  The Lava Flow Trail is one mile roundtrip and takes about 30 minutes.  It’s an easy walk and perfect for all ages.  On this trip we visited the Grand Canyon, Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater and Little Mister’s favorite stop was Sunset Crater.  He loved seeing a volcano up close and was in awe of the lava flow.  We were not able to spend a lot of time here as this was our last stop and we were on a tight schedule, but I plan to take him back so we can spend more time learning about lava flows.

The entrance fee to Sunset Crater gets you into both Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments.

Lava flow as seen from the Lava Flow Trail

There are several lava related stops around Flagstaff.  Now that I think about it, I see a lava themed trip in our future.  In addition to the Flagstaff area, El Malpais National MonumentEl Morro National Monument, and the Ice Cave & Bandero Volcano in western New Mexico would make a great addition to this trip.  El Malpais is a lava field with trails and caves to explore.  El Morro was a popular waterhole that contains over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages and petroglyphs dating back to the 1600s.  The Bandero Volcano is one of the most accessible in the country and the Ice Cave is in part of a collapsed lava tube.  These three destinations are three to four hours east of Flagstaff and all within an hour of each other.  I have not visited any of them but they are on my list of places I would like to visit.

Have you visited any of these parks?  What was your favorite activity?

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