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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.



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