DescriptionLying approximately 12 miles north of Flagstaff via US 89, then 2 miles east on Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Road, the 1,000-foot-high cinder cone of Sunset Crater Volcano dominates the surrounding fields of cinders, lava flows and spatter cones. The bright-reddish hues of the decomposed, water-stained sulfuric rock at the summit are in stark contrast with the black basalt of the adjacent rocks. From a distance the mountain appears to be on fire.
Dark at the base, the volcano also has shades of red, orange and yellow leading to the summit and takes on a rosy tint during the hour before sunset. In 1892 John Wesley Powell noted the phenomenon and purportedly gave the cone its name.
Sunset Crater Volcano may have first erupted A.D. 1064-65 and was active intermittently for nearly 200 years. Recent research indicates that the eruption may not have occurred until 1088 and may have lasted only a year. A self-guiding trail leads over the Bonito lava flow; sturdy walking shoes are recommended. A paved road crosses the lava flow and connects the monument with Wupatki National Monument . Picnicking is permitted. The Lenox Crater Trail is a steep 1-mile round-trip hike to the top of a nearby volcanic summit.
Fire restrictions may apply. Allow 30 minutes minimum. Visitor center daily 8-5, May-Oct.; 9-5, rest of year. Closed Christmas. Admission (includes Wupatki National Monument), valid for 7 days, is $20 (per private vehicle); $15 (per motorcycle); $10 (per person arriving by foot or bicycle); free (ages 0-15). Phone (928) 526-0502.