Roadside Geology – Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments

The Arizona Geological Survey has just released another booklet in its “Down to Earth” series.

Sunset crater cover

The geologic setting in Wupatki National Monument is distinctly different from that in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, even though the monuments are side by side. At Wupatki, sedimentary rocks that were deposited by ancient seas and river systems more than two hundred million years ago during the Permian and Triassic Periods dominate the landscape.

The landscape at Sunset Crater is dramatically different. Although underlain by the same rocks

exposed at Wupatki, the Sunset Crater area is covered with cinders and cooled lava flows from intermittent volcanic eruptions during the last few million years. The most recent eruption was that of Sunset Crater Volcano, only about 900 years ago.

Sunset crater map
This guide provides only a glimpse of what can be found in these areas. By hiking the trails and perusing the displays at the Visitor Centers, you will get a much more in-depth view of the monuments.

Most visitors to these monuments travel north from Flagstaff, enter Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and drive north on the Loop Road to Wupatki. This road log, therefore, is organized to follow the Loop Road in that direction.

You can download the 36 -page booklet (34Mb) here:


For other booklets in this series see: