Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

#6 in Best Things To Do in Flagstaff
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument picture
Michele Falzone/Getty Images

Key Info

6082 Sunset Crater Rd.


Monuments and Memorials, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
  • 4.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Around 900 years ago, a volcano – which has come to be called Sunset Crater – erupted and transformed the encircling area. Geologic features like cinders, lava rock and lava flow compose this almost otherworldly topography, which is punctuated by ponderosa pines. Some of the more popular ways to experience the park include hiking the 1-mile Lava Flow Trail or climbing up to the Cinder Hills Overlook. Keep in mind that backcountry hiking is forbidden for preservation purposes.

Visitors use words like "dramatic" and "incredible" to describe the experience of walking around on lava rocks and cinders. To save some money, other travelers suggest driving around the national monument for free rather than getting out on foot and paying the entrance fee.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is open daily from sunrise to sunset. The park charges $20 for a private vehicle entrance; those entering the park on foot or bicycle pay $10. Keep in mind that this entrance fee will also give you access to the Wupatki National Monument and is valid for seven days. To get here, you'll drive about 20 miles north of central Flagstaff. For more information, visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument's website

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Time to Spend
#1 Historic Downtown and Railroad District

Built along the railroad track – and what would become Route 66 – the Historic Downtown and Railroad District is a pedestrian-friendly area filled with historic 1900s-era buildings that have been converted to shops, restaurants, galleries, breweries and other watering holes. The district also plays hosts to regular events like a farmers market, a monthly art walk, movie nights and more.

Recent visitors heartily recommended sauntering around Flagstaff's Historic Downtown and Railroad District, citing friendly locals, open-air music and countless places to eat, drink and shop. Others also enjoyed the historical signposts, buildings and railroad station. Still, some complained that the college students made the area a bit too lively at night. 

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