Go With The Flow!
The Lava Flow Trail is a 1 mile interpretive loop that accesses the Bonito Lava Flow in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. .3 miles of the loop is paved for wheelchair access. There are plaques featuring pictures, diagrams and descriptions located throughout the paved section. Throughout the entire loop are posts with numbers that can be utilized in conjunction with pamphlets for a self-guided tour. The pamphlets are available at the trailhead. Ranger-guided tours are also available, with the times posted at the trailhead and on the NPS website. I did this trail as a field trip for a 100 level Geology class at NAU, so I had a grad student as my guide. Without her I would have missed some really cool features, so I would recommend the either of the tour options.
The trail itself is relatively flat with a couple very small hills. The terrain is rough, which translates to a slightly rocky trail. The Bonito Lava Flow is a basaltic flow of the "aa" variety, which means the lava is sharp and jagged. Somehow a variety of trees, shrubs and wildflowers have planted their roots in this seemingly hostile landscape. The flow features many recent volcanic formations, such as lava tubes, hornitos, fissures and squeeze-ups plus views of Sunset Crater itself and the Inner Basin of the Peaks. For such a short trail, there are plenty of photo opportunities. Being that it is located within a National Monument, don't expect to have the area to yourself, even during the week. All in all, it's a very unique area, and one of those places that will have you saying "This is in Arizona?!"
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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