Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater

One of the great things about traveling the country is that wherever we stop, our family will eventually join us!  My sister and her husband arrived for a long weekend and stayed in a cabin at our campground.

sunset crater and wupatki national monument

We took them on an adventure to visit Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument.

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Lynda and Jeff are very familiar with this part of the country.  Having done many road trips in Arizona and New Mexico, they knew exactly what they wanted to see again.


They suggested that we take the 73 mile Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monument loop.  This scenic loop would take us through the vast lava fields of Sunset Crater and then onto the ancient pueblos that make up Wupatki National Monument.

Located about 15 miles north of Flagstaff, this was a fun day trip for all of us!

Sunset Crater

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

Our first stop was the amazing lava fields at Sunset Crater.  You see, nearly 1,000 years ago a fiery volcano destroyed the landscape and the tiny settlements that used to call this area home.

New mountains were created and where there used to be grassy meadows, there remains acres and acres of lava fields.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

These photos truly do not do it justice.  There was hardened lava as far as the eye could see.

The lava and cinder rocks seem frozen in time, almost as if they had just cooled down last week.


There is a one mile self-guided loop trail located at the base of Sunset Crater, but hiking to the summit is no longer permitted. Unfortunately, the trail to the summit and crater was closed in 1973 because of excessive erosion caused by hikers.

wupatki national monument and sunset crater

The wildflowers in the area were just beautiful.  These are called Apache Plume.  It is a drought resistant plant that is located mainly in the southwestern US.

A thousand years ago, this land was desolate and barren.  Now nature rules again.

Our next stop was the Wupatki National Monument…

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11 thoughts on “Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater”

  1. I loved reading this post. It brought back many memories. (thousand year old trees, LOL) We can’t wait to come see you at your next stop!

    1. Hi Lynda!
      We really enjoyed your visit! And the thousand year old trees were just amazing! Tell Jeff that I think I found some more in the campground! Come visit us anytime! We had a blast!


    1. Hi Heather!
      Thank you for the kind words! It is always a pleasure when you pop into my comments too! LOL! Hope you are having a wonderful summer!


    1. Hi Jenny and Robin!

      Thanks so much for following along! I read your recent post showing the snow on the mountains behind you! I forget that my summer is actually your winter! You live in a very beautiful place!


  2. Always enjoy reading and learning and as Aussies we get some great ‘stops’ and ideas for our next holiday – we’ve popped a few of your stops on our holiday planner for ect year. Cheers

    1. Hi Vicki!
      Wow! That is awesome! Maybe we will run across each other one day! It really is a small world out there!


  3. On June 5, 2015, a website with satellite images reported steam rising from the crater, leading to fears that Sunset Crater was erupting. The cause of the steam was later determined to be a forest fire, and geologists stated that the volcano was extinct.

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