Friday, 15 October 2010

Sunset Crater Volcano - Can It Really Be That Old?

I had heard there was a volcano near to Flagstaff that had erupted sometime in the past. I have never seen a volcano before, so I was interested in going and taking a look.

We were on our way back to Flagstaff from the Grand Canyon and we found the entrance road to Sunset Crater National Park, so we turned left and just a few miles from Flagstaff found an incredible place.

This is the view as we crossed the flatlands leading up to the crater....





















As we approached, it became obvious that the hill we were looking at wasn’t a hill at all. It was a 340 metre (1,120 ft) tall high cone that was made of and ash....





















Trees and vegetation have begun to grow once more on the crater. On one side they are well established, not so on the other.

Soon we found where the lava had flowed. This was surreal, with strange shapes having been formed in the lava....


















There is one point where you can walk right next to the lava. This is where Jackie got silly in posing for a picture!....



























Even on this lava, trees and beginning to grow....









































































We got back on the bike and reached where the road runs alongside the cone itself. The ash has an amazing consistency and forms an almost perfect slope....









































I loved the shape of this dead tree.....



























We didn’t stay long as it doesn’t need much time to see the crater. The view looking back towards the mountains just north of Flagstaff was pretty good! Here is Humphreys Peak, with its top covered in snow....





















When writing this post, I wondered how long ago the last eruption happened. It seemed to me this must have happened relatively recently as the ash slope is so perfect and very little vegetation has grown on the ash and lava. I was amazed to discover the last eruption was over 900 years ago. Wow, it obviously takes a lot longer than I thought for plants and trees to establish themselves on lava and ash.

With so much to see in Arizona that is well known and busy, it was refreshing to find something that we had never heard of, where there was very few people and still interesting and stunning to see.

4 comments:

Eve said...

Imagine all the things we don't know about our planet, such an amazing place we live. Thanks for sharing this old volcano with us! What a cute picture of Jackie!!

My Bikers World said...

You know, evry time you post these photos from your tour, I get the better understanding of your motives for such a tour. I have never though about USA as such an awsome thing, but you have changed my mind on this point!

motoroz said...

Wow. I did not realize that Arizona had so many awesome places.

Gary France said...

Eve – There are incredible things out there on our planet that most of us have never even heard of. I liked the picture of Jackie!

MBW – The USA has some incredible places and things to see. I had no idea about how diverse it is before this trip.

Oz – Neither did I until I got there! It was a bit of local knowledge from a person that lives in Flagstaff that told me about Sunset Crater.