Hiking area, scenic drive and natural lanmark
Recommended by: John Williams Sonoma
This is not really a crater, but really a volcano that exploded a long time ago! Now, it's just a big cone of left-over dried up lava that I hope never explodes again!
Sunset Crater is located about 40 miles east of Flagstaff, but it is a great little side trip for those who want to see some really unique landscaping or those who are heading out to visit the nearby Wupatki ruins. When most people think of a crater, they think of a giant hole in the ground caused by meteors, but Sunset Crater is something completely different. More than 1000 years ago, Sunset Crater was formed by the eruption of a volcano that spewed lava, ash and cinders straight up and then flowing back down over a span of months forming what would eventually come to be known as Sunset Crater.
The park has a visitor's center where park rangers provide insight into the region and history of the Sinagua people who once lived here. Since the eruption took place over a span of several months, it is interesting to learn that the natives explored the area, and in some places you can still see imprints from ears of corn where the natives made an offering to try to appease the god that created this disaster. Also, another interesting tidbit of information is that in 1969, NASA used part of the cinder lake region near the park to help train astronauts from their imminent moon landing.
For those who like to explore a bit, even though the trail to the top of the crater was closed due to erosion, there are two trails for hiking which offer spectacular views of the crater and the surrounding areas. The region is populated with aspen and ponderosa pine and fields of wildflowers in the summertime.
6400 U.S. 89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Admission (subject to change):
Hours(subject to change):
View Flagstaff Things to Do by JacobGuide.com in a larger map
You can purchase a self-guide for just a few dollars at the ranger station to learn more about the area.
Jacob Tip: If you look up at the dip at the top of the lava peak, you will see the sunset colored rocks that this place is named after.
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