Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Explore an otherworldly landscape at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona's most recent volcanic eruption site, which offers unique hikes and sightseeing.

Plan a day trip from Flagstaff to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to see how an eruption nearly 1,000 years ago left behind unique geologic formations and destroyed ancient structures built by native peoples.

In approximately 1085, the earth shook, rumbled and cracked with great force. Lava and ash from a violent volcano spewed into the air, covering pit houses and farms built by the Sinagua (Ancestral Puebloan) people. When the lava bubbled up and cooled, it turned into rocks called cinders and lava bombs.

One-of-a-kind hikes and rides

A handful of trails at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument—all rated easy or moderate—take visitors across baren brittle remnants of lava flows and through lush ponderosa pine forests with views of the surrounding San Francisco Peaks. Meander the Sunset Crater hiking trails on your own or tag along with a park ranger or volunteer as they lead tours along the Lava Flow Trail. Learn about how and where the Sunset Crater eruption happened, the unusual landscape, and native flora and fauna during talks at the amphitheater.

The Cinder Hills OHV Area within Coconino National Forest allows the use of licensed 2-, 3- and 4-wheel vehicles to explore volcanic cinder cones and craters on 13,500 acres, including a 14-mile loop south of Sunset Crater.

Starry nights

Astronomers of the Verde Valley host Summer Sky Night Events with telescopes set up for public use. The park is an International Dark Sky Park, which means celestial viewing is optimal here, with little to no light pollution. An onsite visitor center provides ample information about the park, plus you'll find an outpost of the Western National Parks Association store with snacks and souvenirs. Note: There are no dining or lodging options at the park.

Sightseeing

Your entrance fee to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument includes admission to nearby Wupatki National Monument, where the Sinagua relocated before the volcano erupted. Follow the 34-mile Sunset Crater–Wupatki Scenic Loop Drive to get between the two parks. At Wupatki you'll hike past prehistoric villages built nearly 900 years ago, including the largest free-standing pueblo in Northern Arizona.

If you're interested in camping near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Bonito Campground on U.S. Forest Service land offers 44 units in a stand of ponderosa pines. O'Leary Group Site consists of three large sites that each fit 50–75 people.

Accessibility

  • The visitor center and two trails—the Bonito Vista Trail and the upper section of the Lava Flow Trail—are fully accessible for wheelchairs, walkers and strollers.
  • Accessible restrooms are available at the visitor center and at the Lava Flow Trail parking area.
  • Brochures printed in braille can be obtained at the visitor center or from a Park Ranger.
  • Wheelchairs cannot be rented at the monument or its visitor center. Please bring whatever mobility aids you need with you.

Visit Destination Website

More to Explore Near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sustainability

Appreciate AZ

The Arizona Office of Tourism and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics© forged a partnership to promote sustainable tourism practices...

Cities

Flagstaff

Enjoy all four seasons in Northern Arizona’s largest city — located along historic Route 66 just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Located in Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon National Monument is a natural gem in central Arizona that offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and...

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument, near Flagstaff, AZ preserves pueblos once inhabited by ancestors of the Hopi and Zuni people, amid red rocks and...

Family Activities

10 Accessible Adventures in Arizona

The Grand Canyon State welcomes all visitors, including those with different mobility, visual, and hearing abilities. From high in the sky to...

Outdoor Adventures

Hit the Open Road: 5 Off-Road Trails in Arizona

Explore Arizona by taking the road less traveled.

Must Do

9 Amazing Landmarks You Didn't Know Were in Arizona

You know about the Grand Canyon, no doubt. Now discover what else geology, ambition, and technology have produced as you explore some of...

Outdoor Adventures

Tour the Terrain: Off-roading in Arizona

Ditch the main lane for some off-road adventures on Jeeps, ATVs and more.