The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Sunset Volcano Crater National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments Using Flagstaff as our jumping-off point, we decided to meander north on U.S. Highway 89. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument wasn't part of the plan, but a roadside sign announcing it caught our attention. Its name intrigued me, and I thought maybe this could be one of our hidden gems. The colorful 3,040-acre park is easily enjoyed in relative solitude. Black rock with touches of green and yellow lichen covers most of the Bonito Lava Flow, near the park entrance. Red and orange glaze the top of Sunset Crater volcano, the park's namesake. Legend has it that 19th century explorer John Wesley Powell gave the crater its name because he thought its rim resembled a sunset. Just up the road from Sunset Crater is Wupatki National Monument, with picturesque scenery and pueblo ruins. The largest of these is the Wupatki Pueblo, which in the 12th century had 100 rooms holding as many residents. You can tour the pueblo grounds, including the ball court and community room. Pictured: Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
Jason La / Los Angeles Times
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