A volcano in Arizona is not something you would ever think of but believe it or not, Sunset Crater Volcano is actually located in Northern Arizona.  Yes, it was an actual volcano that erupted sometime between 1040 and 1100 AD.  I know it’s kind of hard to believe, I actually didn’t know what to think when I found out there was one and Jason told me I was insane until I sent him this selfie of me in front of the sign.  Haha, showed him 😊

This area really is quite a phenomenon.  The second you get to the area the landscape immediately changes.  Yes, this is to be expected but it’s so sudden that you wonder if you entered a black hole and came out in a different dimension.  Almost immediately the landscape turns to a black, volcanic rock look from the green trees and semi desert landscape.  It’s not hard to see it and it goes on for miles.  In fact it is recorded as 810 square miles.

sunset crater volcano
sunset crater volcano

On a side note, in 2015 there was actually a scare of another eruption because satellites reported steam rising from the crater which was later determined to be a forest fire and geologists conclude that this volcano is indeed extinct.

There are some neat little trails that walk around the area so you can get a closer view of the volcano, the lava remains and the impact on the area.  There was a hike that I have on my list that I was not able to do that day as I wasn’t wearing the proper shoes.  I went in February and there was still snow on the ground.  A great time to visit, but I did not have my hiking boots on or anything with me.  I was more or less there to be a tourist and not an explorer.  This hike is the Lava Flow Trail and basically walks around the base of the area.  There were warnings all over that it could be dangerous without the proper foot gear.

lava landscape
bridge to trail

Now, I’m guessing you are wondering the same thing as me.  “Can I hike the crater?”  The answer is no.  Unfortunately, people are careless and ignorant to the effects of leaving a footprint and the trail leading to the crater was closed down. There is still a short trail at the base of the remains that you can travel that is still great.  Keep in mind, the above is my opinion and you are welcome to your own, however, it is reported that it was closed down due to the damage from the hikers.

Besides all the lava remains one thing that I really found interesting was the trees.  Yes, I said the trees.  The trees that were no longer standing were like nothing I had really seen before.  They were absolutely beautiful.  These dead trees sprinkled the area with a true beauty of the change of the landscape years and years prior.  I have a friend that is semi-obsessed with trees, so naturally I had to take a lot of pictures and send them to her.  Needless to say, she was in awe by the beauty and now you can be too.

Oh, and you can get a Passport Book Stamp at the visitor center here too.  😊  If you don’t have your National Parks Passport book yet, I am disappointed.  Have I not taught you anything?  What better way to record where you have been then by getting the satisfying feeling of stamping a book at all the parks and monuments you have been to.

Fun Facts:

  • Sunset Crater Volcano became a National Monument after a public outcry when Hollywood wanted to detonate a large amount of explosives to create an avalanche on the side of the crater for the movie “Avalanche”
  • The trail to the crater was closed down in 1973 because of excessive erosion caused by hikers
  • The eruption forced temporary abandonment of the Sinagua People
  • The entire event may have lasted between 6-12 months