take U.S 89 north for 12 miles, turn right on the Sunset Crater -
Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles to the visitor center.
People must have
been warned by tremors and earthquakes before red-hot rocks exploded
from the ground and rained down on their pit houses and farmland.
Perhaps some stayed to watch as their homes and farmland were buried
under slow-moving lava flows. Most fled, taking their possessions
falling cinders, and forest fires blackened the land and the daytime
sky. At night, the horizon glowed fiery red. A large fire fountain,
accompanied by lightning and a tremendous roar, could be seen and
heard for hundreds of miles. It must have been the loudest noise
these people had ever experienced.
When their world
again grew quiet, people faced a dramatically altered land. New
mountains, including the 1,000-foot-high cinder cone now known as
Sunset Crater, stood where open meadows and forests had been. Black
cinders blanketed the region.
Life in the shadow
of the volcano was changed profoundly and forever. Some people
relocated nearby at Walnut Canyon or Wupatki.
900 years later,
Sunset Crater is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau.
The volcano's red rim and the dark lava flows seem to have cooled
and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. As plants return,
so do the animals that use them for food and shelter. And so do
human visitors, intrigued by this opportunity to see nature�s
response to a volcanic eruption.
Hike one of the two
trails or stop and take in a program given by park rangers. Allow at
least 1 hour to stop at the Visitor Center and hike the Lava FLow
Trail. To hike the Lenox Crater cinder cone allow an additional 45
Lava Flow Trail is
a 1-mile loop trail with a .25 mile accessible loop. It is a
self-guided trail exploring a variety of volcanic formations.
The Lenox Crater
Trail provides an opportunity to climb a cinder cone. This steep
trail is 1-mile round trip and requires about 30 minutes up and 15
Please stay on
designated trails. Backcountry hiking is not allowed in order to
protect fragile natural resources. Use extreme caution hiking near
lava - it is sharp, brittle, and unstable.
Pets must be kept
on a leash at all times. They are not allowed in buildings or on