SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO & WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENTS
Join us as we set out to explore ancient life in Northern Arizona!
Our first stop will be at the magnificent Sunset Crater Volcano. After making our way through the visitor center and learning about the geology and volcanic activity that’s helped shape this landscape we will arrive at the base of the volcano. Our time there includes a one-mile walk along the Lava Flow Loop Trail where we will see various lava formations of the red, orange, and black rocks that have spewed out from this volcano. Lava tubes, caves, and “hornitos” abound in this area. Along this trail, we will see a collapsed lava tube, the branching arms that reach out and send lava in all directions from the base of this volcano. The trail is fairly easy, with only short sections of incline.
As we continue through this park we will stop at various locations to take in the wide, expansive lava flow fields that boggle the mind. The sharp and jagged a’a (ah ah) lava that fills this basin creates unique spires and tumbled formations that appear otherworldly, like some far-distant sci-fi movie planet. At our stop at Cinder Hills Overlook we will see other views of Sunset Crater Volcano, volcanic features associated with its eruption, and various other cinder cones that dot the landscape. The Painted Desert Vista offers colorful views of the distant Painted Desert and Navajo Nation.
From Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument we will head north along the same road and enter into Wupatki National Monument. This area was home to Native groups of people who thrived around the 1100s. Certainly, the lives of those living here would have been affected for better or for worse by the nearby eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano and others in the area. This location was a thriving trade center, with stone-built pueblos, some of the largest and most densely populated in the region. An agricultural and trade center, the Wupatki complex was thought to have been mostly abandoned 600-800 years ago.
Wupatki, Wukoki, Lomaki, and Citadel pueblos are some of the more prominent features found here. We will travel to see them all, and get a sense of what it must have been like to live here nearly 1,000 years ago. From this area, we can see the huge San Francisco peaks looming nearby as well as the Hopi mesas far in the distance.
We will be able to explore the huge pueblo at the Wupatki complex near the visitor center, complete with a large religious ceremonial room called a Kiva. Nearby is the blowhole where we can feel the cool air coming from deep in the earth as it “breathes”. Also found here, unlike many other sites, is a large ball court that would have been home to ceremonial religious games. Perhaps this northernmost ball court was home to similar games found to have been played in ball courts further south with the related Aztec and Mayan cultures.
Our tour will include many of the highlights and history of this area. This is also a great place to spot desert wildlife like beautiful collared lizards, hawks, and pronghorn antelope. These two locations are great places for pictures and exploration!
Sunset Crater Volcano – Easy
20-30 minute easy trail with only short inclines up and down.
Wupatki National Monument – Easy
Short walks to various pueblos with paved or compacted earth paths in most places.
Tour departs Flagstaff, AZ at 8:00 am. With pick-up at your hotel or location. Tour duration is typically 5-6 hours.
The Wupatki area can be quite hot in the summer months. Sunscreen and protective clothing are suggested.
Bottled water will be provided. Feel free to bring your own water bottle or camelback if desired.
Flat group rate is for 1-4 people in our tour SUV. Additional guests (up to 7 total) may be added at $25 per person.
Flat group rate remains the same for unlimited group size with guide in your vehicle(s).
You may bring your own food for lunch, or have us provide box lunches for an additional fee of $8 per person.