Geologically-speaking, 900 Years Old is Young

People hike the San Francisco Peak trails in Flagstaff, Arizona. Unknown to many hikers, the area is eroded remains of a stratovolcano that erupted at its latest 400,000 years ago. Also within the San Francisco Volcanic Field, a cinder volcano, eventually named Sunset Crater, spewed cinder/ash only nine hundred years ago. It is this cinder volcano, geologically-speaking, that is considered to be young. People can visit this area now referred to as Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

When you visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument take time to walk a couple of trails. The Lava Flow trail is a one mile long walk on cinders/ash. The basaltic rock is dark and high in iron, once spewed from a vent as the cinder cone grew in size. It is amazing now to see trees and other plants growing from the solid lava.

Another trail, the Bonita Vista Trail has, for three-tenths of a mile, a paved, wheelchair-accessible path. It loops around and also connects to an amphitheater area. There is also an unpaved trail continuing on through the lava flow of this area.

People who lived in this area were displaced when the volcano was active in its eruption and creation of the cinder cone. They were the Sinaguans who moved away from here. Evidence shows they moved to what is now named Walnut Canyon National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. If you visit the Flagstaff area, there are plenty of historic places to visit.

Leave a Reply