Wapatki - Sunset Crater - 2017

Just northeast of Flagstaff along route 89A, there are two lightly visited National Monuments (NM), Wapatki and Sunset Crater. While having few amenities, we have always enjoyed camping at the forest camp by the Sunset Crater entry. The spaces are large, it’s quiet and not overly busy, especially during the week. The camp is set in Ponderosa forest in the cinders from nearby volcanoes. Though the elevation is high, the camp can still be fairly warm because of the black rock surrounding the area. This summer we spent 4-5 days there, visiting all of the ruins in Wapatki and enjoying some of the local crater hikes. Hiking on Sunset Crater is no longer allowed but Bob and his family hiked to the top back in the 60’s. There was also an ice cave open then (old lava flow tubes) and we may have found one of the barred entrances along a trail, which emitted cold air. The volcano field north of Mount Humphreys has a long lava tube that can be hiked but we didn’t visit it this year. It was close to 100 degrees at the lower elevation Wapatki ruins. We still hiked to several of the remote ones later in the day. One afternoon, we drove up the steep, twisty, gravel road to Locket Meadow to enjoy the cooler temperatures at 10,000’. Unfortunately there were small wildfires burning around the Flagstaff area and some of the views were obscured making our photos hazier than we wished.