Flagstaff, Arizona – Volcanoes and Indian dwellings

Two less noticed National Monuments are north of Flagstaff at a loop close to Hwy # 89: Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument. Sunset Crater erupted in the second half of the 11th century. Despite the long period of time vegetation grows sparsely due to the low precipitation. The pitch-black lava stream is in stark contrast to the colourful surrounding. Where iron-containing lava got in contact with oxygen and humidity it changes colour to red. Spatter cones are created when a lava stream solidifies at the surface and moving liquid lava escapes from a crack.

On the same loop drive Wupatki National Monument protects some old Indian settlements. Wukoki Pueblo for instance is an unusual three-story house where two to three families lived probably in the 12th and in the beginning of the 13th century. Wukoki means big house in Hopi language and can be visited from inside as well. While most Indian dwellings nestle against cliffs under big overhangs, the Wukoki is built on top of a hill with a perfect all-round view.

Petrified Forest National Park that we’ll visit tomorrow doesn’t have any camping or other overnight options. Two souvenir shops on the park’s south entrance offer a kind of complimentary campground with pick-nick tables and few electrical hook-ups. Of course you can buy beautiful souvenirs from petrified wood as well.

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