The main reason why we wanted to overnight just south of Cameron Friday was due to the fact that we were just north of Saturday's destination - - the Wupatki National Monument and the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
They were NOT to be missed.
Yup - back in 2006 we sailed right by this loop drive. Just as were driving by the sign that said 'Sunset Crater National Monument' we looked at each other - shrugged our shoulders, and kept driving. It hadn't been on our list and we had miles to make.
Not so this year. We made a point to drive in and spend the day. So glad we did.
The loop road is 34 miles long - it leaves the 89 to the east and then returns just after the Sunset Crater Volcano. The fee is $5 per person - free for those 16 and under, to visit both Monuments. A pretty good deal particularly we spent the day there also hiking the trails.
WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT
The first stop within the Wupatki National Monument are the Lomaki and Box Canyon Pueblos.
These structures are 800 years old!
Amazing stone work!
The second one you are allowed to go into.
Very informative placards describing the living conditions and way of life.
LOVE this stuff!
From there we carried on to the Doney Mountain Picnic area. We weren't really in need of a picnic yet but we were happy we pulled off as there is a great hike to the top of a mountain. Well, not REALLY a mountain but it sure FELT like one climbing to the top of it.
Can you spot our van?
A pretty good trail - steep in spots.
Cassia getting some help from Dad.
The view from the top! We made it!
Can you spot the van now?
Looking at Mt. Humphreys - Flagstaff's Ski Hill.
The road we travelled in on.
A short time later we were pulling into the Wupatki Visitor Center and Pueblo.
The largest Pueblo found in the area.
Beautiful illustrations of how the community here may have looked and functioned.
We spent a few hours at the visitor center. The display inside the center provided a lot of interesting information. Lunch was also needed by this time.
Soon after the Wupatiki VC you leave the National Monument and travel through some an interesting landscape on the way to the Sunset Crater.
This tree completely stood out - we were driving so I'm glad I was quick enough to get a shot of it.
We stopped in at the Painted Desert Vista but the painted desert is a long way away. The landscape has totally changed though to a ponderosa and pinyon pine forest.
SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT
I guess it isn't HUGE but interesting none the less - right?!
A real life VOLCANO.
Our last stop on the loop trail was at the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
Cassia Little Walker was growing weary of these long hikes - all in one day - so we cut this one a bit short. We stuck to the paved loop and headed out.
Continuing through the pine forest on the way out.
Just a few miles west of the Crater we met up with the busy 89 highway. Boy was it nice taking the very slow and quiet 34 mile loop road for the day.
We headed to Flagstaff for the night. It was bound to be a cool one at 6,900 feet!
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