Volcanoes And Ruins Loop Scenic Drive

Area Status: Open

Sunset Crater National Monument

There's a story of cataclysm and survival written in the landscape along this scenic drive. The route passes through the most recently active portion of the San Francisco volcano field surrounding Flagstaff, and at the same time offers access to some of the most notable and best preserved ancient Native American ruins in northern Arizona.

The last eruption in this area occurred around A.D. 1250 or so, as the earth's surface opened to spew cinders, lava and molten globs of rock into the air. Wounds heal slowly in this arid land, so much of the area looks as if had been fuming and spurting just yesterday.

Living in the area before during and after the period of volcanic activity (about A. D. 1064 to 1250) was a group of people archaeologists call the Sinagua. Their name comes from the name the early Spanish explorers gave the San Francisco Peaks-Sierra sin agua-the mountains without water. The Sinagua people were prosperous farmers and traders who left abundant evidence of their presence throughout the Flagstaff area. The apartment houses, ball courts, and artifacts they left behind stand for us to admire as a tribute to their ingenuity.

At a Glance

Fees: Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatiki require a park pass or America the Beautiful Interagency Pass to use the park trails, visitor center, and other facilities.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Closest Towns: Flagstaff, AZ
Operated By: Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866

General Information


Wupatki pueblo


Location: From Flagstaff, drive12 miles northeast on US 89 to the Sunset Crater-Wupatki turnoff (FR 545), and turn east (right). It's about 36 miles around this road back to US 89, and then 22 miles back to Flagstaff.


Click on map image for printable view.

Volcanoes And Ruins Loop Map

General Notes:

Attractions: Scenic views, picnicking, Native American ruins (interpretive center at Wupatki National Monument), volcanoes (interpretive center at Sunset Crater National Monument), hiking, wildlife watching

Road Condition: All roads are paved and plowed but can become slippery in winter conditions.

Driving Time: 2-3 hours


Scenic Driving

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
70 miles