Sunset Crater National Monument is one of my local playgrounds. Situated in the high Ponderosa Pine forests near Flagstaff, Arizona at 7,000 feet.
Featuring recent obvious volcanic activity, hiking trails, camping areas, and close proximity to two other national monuments.
Sunset Crater has been active in the last 900 years(very recent), and it shows in many ways that make it a place to wonder over. Huge volcanic fields of solidified lava flows, giant cinder cones that seem as though they should still be smoking, and a weird quiet that seems to indicate the silence before the storm.
In reality, it is highly unlikely that there will be any significant volcanic activity here any time soon. It is quite safe to visit, and the thrill you will get of standing on a volcano won't cost you your life.
Three main hiking trails in the monument will lead you through interpretive displays and truly beautiful plant and animal habitat. Local rangers and interpretive workers are usually available to ask questions both on the trails, at the trail heads, and at the new visitors center.
Near by lodging is available in Flagstaff(10 miles), camping is available in the monument at a fee based camp ground that is quite clean and well run, and unrestricted National Forest Service property is near by too.
Fees to get in the monument are currently $3, and 'Golden Eagle' passes are accepted for entrance. If you plan on visiting near by Wupatki National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument, or the Grand Canyon, then it would be wise to buy a 'Golden Eagle' pass to save some $ in the long run.
Come check out all of Flagstaff's three national monuments. Interesting, educational, beautiful, and easy to get to make them a must if you come to the area. Combined with the Grand Canyon, this area is a destination in itself that all will enjoy.
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