Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments Scenic Drive: Sunset Crater Trail is a 34.4 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Flagstaff, AZ that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for nature trips, birding, and scenic driving and is accessible year-round.
Very scenic drive. Seeing the remnants of volcanic activity in the southwestern US was impressive, as were the traces of early civilization. The short informative trail at Sunset Crater is excellent. Both monuments are well worth it.
Great drive. We stopped here returning from Banff in 2009. Very nice!
This is quite a treat as the drive takes you thru various terrains. Once you get to the various pueblo ruins the desert and plains are beautiful. At the time of day 4 to 5 PM the afternoon sun was mellowed by winds that made for a great trip thru the park.
We started at Sunset Crater, a short hike to the "summit" was more difficult than I anticipated. The lava sand made for rough footing. The place was crowded. So we moved onto Wupatki where the ruins were enjoyable, the walk through the area was liesurely, crowds were non existant. We had great views of the Painted Desert from here. A nice scenic ride.
While there were tourists all along the road, and especially at Sunset and Wupatki, I got the feeling that these are often overlooked by the hordes descending on the Grand Canyon and north. The drive was enjoyable, but the hiking at the key stops was the best part. You get scenery, science, history and native American culture all rolled up into one easy day. Some of the hiking is a little strenuous at Sunset, but otherwise, nothing more than moderate, and much of it is easy.
The drive is very pleasant and has a 2,000 foot elevation change. If you start at the Sunset Crater Visitor Center, you will be starting at a bit over 7,000 feet in pine forest. The drive will traverse you through and between various inactive volcanoes and out into a slightly rolling high plains of 5,000 feet. To the east the painted desert delivers a breathtaking view. There are many hikes and points of interest along the road. The visitor center will be able to find something to fit ones interest.