Our visit to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument

Tuesday morning (10/14) rolled around and it seemed a good night’s sleep helped us get our act together and after our morning routine we tossed our cooler full of waters and snacks in the Jeep and headed out to tour the area.

The first thing we did was do a driving tour around town. The population of Flagstaff is right at 66,000 people so right on the edge of what we call “to large” for our liking but not bad. But they say the combined metropolitan area of Flagstaff has an estimated population of 136,539 which just makes it too large for us but there are things to see in the area so here we are LOL!!


Flagstaff is named after a Ponderosa Pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the “Second Boston Party”) to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876. And if you’re interested here is a link to more historical information about Flagstaff. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagstaff,_Arizona

We drove around town for a while but neither of us were in the mood to deal with people so we decided to head out of town to check out a couple National Monuments and our first stop was Sunset Crater. They figure that this volcano erupted roughly 900 years ago.

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There are a number of hikes you can take as well as short walks on trails full of plaques with information about the area. And because we have seen a number of volcanic areas during our travels we feel we have now walked through enough lava beds to know what they look like and opted to only walk a couple of the short informative trails before moving on.

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But here is a link about Sunset Crater if you’re interested. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunset_Crater

After Sunset Crater we continued on to Wupatki National Monument where Ancient pueblos dot the landscape across miles of prairie.

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The dwelling’s walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color and are held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand but of course not all of the mortar is original, but a lot is.

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There are a number of different sites that you can actually visit at Wupatki National Monument with ruins to view. And there are a number of them that you can see from different sites but are not open to the public and I’m not sure there are even roads to some of them which in a way makes it even more special knowing there is a lot more to be uncovered in this area and so much is still left alone, unlike so many other historical sites across the country.

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The largest settlement on monument territory is the Wupatki Ruin, built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area’s tallest and largest structure for its time period.

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You can’t visit and not think back at how it might have looked when all of the structures were intact and full of life. And because you can stand at one ruin and look out over the prairie and see 3, 4 or even 5 others within a short distance it made me think they all said “ok, we are going to divide the area up into 5 to 20 acre parcels so we can all have our privacy but we will build this huge cub house where we can all gather to party. Not so unlike we do things today in so many areas.


It always amazes us when we visit places like this where food and water seem impossible to find, people built structures like these, raised families, farmed, traded, and thrived. We don’t seem to tire of seeing things like this like we have Lava beds.

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And once again we couldn’t help notice how we seemed to see many visitors come and go while we still stood and marveled at the sights before us. Sometimes we think people just walk though places like this for the exercise and not the history, heck they may as well head to the mall for that type of walk LOL!! Oh well, to each his own.

Oh, another cool thing was a Blowhole!!


A blowhole is a rare geologic feature in which air is blown through a small hole at the surface due to pressure differences between a closed underground system and the surface. It is estimated that the closed underground passages have a volume of at least seven billion cubic feet. Wind speeds can approach 30 miles per hour and the air coming out of this one was very cool compared to the outside temps. You can see Diane’s hair blow just from the wind coming from the hole.


By this time it was about time to throw on the feed bag and we were both in the mood for Italian so we headed back to town and had dinner at the Fat Olives. We found the menu to be limited and the food just ok and we both agreed that the Olive Garden would have been as good a choice but at least we tried a local restaurant.

That’s it for Tuesday, we are a few days behind on the blog (go figure) and we have done a few more things around town but we will talk about them on our next update.

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2 Responses to Our visit to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument

  1. Joy & Tom Travis says:

    Awesome photos! I love how you guys go into depth on the history. I love the photos of the plaques. Diane, I love that color top you wore, looks really good on you! Thanks again for a great informative write-up.

  2. Scooter says:

    We felt the same way at Craters of the Moon yesterday. People were roaring though the park like they were on some kind of mission. We meander and stop and look and I know the people behind us get ticked cause we’re going the speed limit of 15 but we pull over when we can. I find those old ruins fascinating also. Wondering about the people who lived their and what their lives were like. Really neat.

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