Skip to main content

National Park Wednesday; Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Back between 2010 and 2012 I frequented all the National Monuments in Arizona.  In 2012 while in Flagstaff I traveled northbound on US Route 89 to Coconino National Forest Route 395 to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.


Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument is a small National Park site surrounded by Coconino National Forest.  Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is named after Sunset Crater which is youngest volcano in the San Francisco Volcanic Field.  Sunset Crater is located 8,042 feet above sea level and rises about 1,000 feet in prominence above the surrounding landscape.

Sunset Crater emerged sometime between 1064 AD to 1085 AD.  The lava fields forced the evacuations of nearby tribes which occupied Wupatki National Monument to the north.  The largest volcanic lava field produced by Sunset Crater is the Bonito Flow which is 1.6 miles by miles.  While Sunset Crater is considered extinct it has been subject to scrutiny as late as 2015 when a forest fire was mistaken for volcanic steam.  The San Francisco Volcanic Field is a 1,800 square mile zone of the Colorado Plateau in Northern Arizona affected by frequent volcanic activity.  The San Francisco Volcanic Field is responsible for the eruptions that led to the San Francisco Peaks which is the highest range in Arizona.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument was declared in 1930.  Apparently a movie company sought to create an avalanche for a movie which spurred public outcry to clear Sunset Crater a National Monument.

While the peak of Sunset Crater hasn't been accessible by hiking trail since the 1970s nearby Lenox Crater is.




Sunset Crater has a trail around the base of the volcanic cone.







Near the edge of Sunset Crater there is an overlook of the volcanic vents which apparently erupted as early as 1064.


Forest Route 395 continues east of Sunset Crater National Monument towards the Painted Desert and Wupatki National Monument.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

History of the Big Oak Flat Road (Yosemite National Park)

This week I hiked much of what was the original alignment of the Big Oak Flat Road which is located to the north of the modern roadway.  Unlike the original alignment of the Wawona Road the Old Big Oak Flat Road is surprisingly intact.


The complete history of the Big Oak Flat Road including the original alignment can be found on a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road.

U.S. Department of the Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road

The Big Oak Flat Road began construction east from the mining community of Big Oak Flat in towards Yosemite Valley in 1869.  The Big Oak Flat Road was constructed by the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company which had secured the franchise rights for a toll road to the Yosemite Grant (the designation prior to Yosemite National Park).  By the summer of 1871 the Big Oak Flat Road reached the northern cliffs above Yosemite Valley which is when the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company ran out of funding.  After the…

Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.


Horseshoe Meadows Road is located west of Lone Pine of Inyo County and is 19.7 miles in length.  Horseshoe Meadows Road begins at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level at Whitney Portal Road in the Alabama Hills and ends at an elevation of 10,072 feet above sea level in Horseshoe Meadows.  Horseshoe Meadows Road is the second highest paved road in California only behind Rock Creek Road near Tom's Place.  Pjammcycling rates Horseshoe Meadows Road with an average gradient of 6.2% and lists it as th…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack from the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared the road to Tioga Pass.  That being the case I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.


The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road at Crane Flat east to US Route 395 ("US 395").  The Tioga Pass Road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is maintained by Caltrans as California State Route 120 ("CA 120") east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The National Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highway mountain pass in California reaching Tioga Pass at 9,945 feet above sea level.



Part 1; the history of the Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass first obtained notewort…