On Tuesday I told you how I stopped at Wupatki National Monument to view the 1500 year old adobe buildings and that Spur 395 off Highway 89 was a 20 mile or so loop and reconnected with the highway after passing through that National Park and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Both of these parks are closely related because when Sunset Crater erupted around 1085AD the 1120 foot crater was formed and blanketed the desert floor with ash that enriched the soil and let Wupatki grow to its largest population.
Both parks were also formed within six years of each other, but for different reasons. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument was formed in order to stop a Hollywood film company that planned to detonate explosives on the side of the crater in order to create an avalanche for Zane Grey’s movie, Avalanche. Luckily the National Parks Service was able to stop this, but it has not been able to stop hikers from damaging the summit. This means that the access to the rim was permanently closed way back in 1973 and the only trail is a one mile loop around the base of Sunset Crater.
I am going to admit I enjoyed Wupatki a lot more than Sunset Crater, but it was interesting to see the volcano after reading about how it effected the ancient Pueblo people. There is actually a third National Park only 30 minutes or so away, making all three very doable in one day. Come back on Sunday as we visit Walnut Canyon National Monument.