|Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument,
Little Colorado River Gorge and Meteor Crater
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Sunset Point Rest Area with Scenic Overlook at Exit 252 of Interstate Highway I-17 (aka Black Canyon
Freeway) going between Phoenix and Sedona, at exit 252 just north of Bumble Bee and south of Badger
This is a popular rest area overlooking an imposing valley and mountains. This is a superb vantage point to
stop and rejuvenate for the long drive on I-17 between Phoenix and Sedona, a rest stop with good & clean
rest room facilities, short walks, covered picnic areas and a wide variety of vending machines. This is one of
the best places in Arizona to view a sunset behind the mountains. It is breathtaking as the sun goes down,
hence the name Sunset Point Rest Area. Take a moment to walk along the sidewalk and enjoy views of the
spectacular, sweeping landscape at several outlook spots. Plenty of parking space.
We stopped here, used the nice rest room facility and enjoyed the gorgeous view when we were driving from
Phoenix to Sedona on the afternoon October 7, 2014.
More views of cinder cones in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
Sunset Crater Volcano is located along a 34 mile scenic loop road that takes you from open meadows and the
beautiful Ponderosa pine forests surrounding Sunset Crater, through Juniper grasslands and view of the
Painted Desert, to the open red rock landscape of the Wupatki Basin and Wupatki National Monument. Drive
time along the Loop Road is about 1 hour.
Most visitors drive through the 34 mile scenic loop that winds from Highway 89 through Sunset Crater Volcano
and the ruins of an ancient Native American pueblo in Wupatki National Monument. The scenic loop leads you
from the high Ponderosa Pine forests of Sunset Crater, down nearly 2,000 feet in elevation to the red rocks
and Painted Desert Vistas of Wupatki.
The 1,000 foot high Sunset Crater, began erupting in 1064 A.D. This whole area of national monument is part
of the huge San Francisco Volcanic Field, and Sunset Crater is the youngest of the cinder cones among more
than 600 volcano mountains in the San Francisco Volcanic Field.
The San Francisco Volcanic Field is an area of volcanoes in northern Arizona, north of Flagstaff, USA. The
field covers 1,800 square miles and contains 600 volcanoes ranging in age from nearly 6 million year old to
less than 1,000 years, of which Sunset Crater is the youngest. The highest peak in the field is Humphreys
Peak, at Flagstaff's northern perimeter: the peak is Arizona's highest at 12,633 feet and is a part of the San
Francisco Peaks which are extinct stratovolcano complex. As dramatic as they appear today, these
mountains are probably the eroded remains of a large stratovolcano that once stood 16,000 feet high.
The most prominent landmark here is San Francisco Mountain, a stratovolcano that rises to 12,633 feet, a
cluster of mountains in the middle of desert plains and serve as scenic backdrop to the city of Flagstaff. Aerial
views of the huge San Francisco Volcanic Field can be seen by clicking View 1 and View 2.
This huge volcanic field seems to have formed from a geological hotspot, a hot area deep underground here
in the mantle. As the North American Plate moves over the hotspot, which breaks through every now and
then, a new volcano is created. Thus, the newest volcanoes are at the east side of the field. (This is
somewhat similar to the hotspot in the middle of Pacific Ocean that created the long chain of Hawaii Islands.)
View of part of large expanses of volcanic landscape of jagged and twisted lava and ash, known as the Bonito
The Bonito Lava Flow contains other characteristic features such as ravines formed by collapsed lava tubes
(where molten magma continued to flow beneath a solidified crust), and squeeze-ups - thin, sharply edged
ridges of lava that pushed up from underneath cooler overlying deposits.
Lovely pink flowers on the vast expense of black lava flow.
Aspen in their beautiful autumn golden-yellow color on the black lava flow.
駐足山腰，放眼望去， 廣闊的天際， 藍藍的青天，柔柔的雲絮，非凡的的彩色沙漠。
Northern part of Painted Desert as viewed at a great distance from Painted Desert Vista in Sunset Crater
Volcano National Monument when we toured this national monument on the afternoon of October 9, 2014.
深藍的天空， 潔白的雲彩，遠眺彩色沙漠， 大自然的傑作，壯美、奇幻，令人震撼。
Northern part of Painted Desert as viewed at a great distance from Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop Road in
Wupatki National Monument when we toured this national monument on the afternoon of October 9, 2014.
On late afternoon of October 9, 2014 after we finished touring Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and
was driving south on Highway 89 towards Flagstaff, we saw this rain storm over the San Francisco Volcanic
When we arrived at Flagstaff in late afternoon of October 9, 2014, it was raining and we saw this beautiful
Rental Car Tire Pressure at High Elevation:
We got our rental car at Phoenix Airport on October 7, 2014 at elevation of 1,135 feet and the weather was
still hot. We drove that rental car north to tour Sedona and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument from
October 7 to 9 with no problem. However, the elevation at Flagstaff is about 7.000 feet and the air
temperature on the evening of October 9 dropped down to 40 some degrees Fahrenheit. On the morning of
October 10, when I got into the rental car and turned on the ignition, a big warning red light came up on the
dash board indicating that the tire pressure of the right front tire was too low. So, I had to drive the rental car
to a nearby gas station to pump more air into all four tires to bring them all up to the normal level. Then the tire
pressure warning light disappeared from the dash board so that I could continue my driving tour in Arizona.
The spectacular, deep, precipitous cliffs of the Little Colorado River Gorge which is about 25 miles east of
Desert View of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This is one of the 7 Natural Wonders in Navajo Land. The narrow
gorge is about 1,000 feet deep.
This awesome vista with bewildering massive rock formations is on the north side of Highway 64, between
mile posts 285 & 286 on Highway 64 and 10 miles west from the junction of Highway 89 and Highway 64. It is
near the lower right corner (marked as Canyon Viewpoint) on the following map:
Map: Click here for a map showing the location of Canyon Viewpoint (i.e., Little Colorado River Gorge)
For visitors driving from Highway 89, then turn west into Highway 64 to come to visit the Grand Canyon from
the East Entrance, the Little Colorado River Gorge is a great prelude 25 miles before the East Entrance of
As a major tributary that flows into Colorado River, the Little Colorado River begins in east central Arizona and
flows northwest until it reaches the Colorado River in the eastern part of the Grand Canyon. The lower end of
the Little Colorado River carved this dramatic narrow gorge that stays deep and enclosed for 45 miles for the
Little Colorado River to descend from the flat plains of the Painted Desert in the Navajo Indian Reservation
down to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
We visited Little Colorado River Gorge on our way to the East Entrance of Grand Canyon on the morning of
October 10, 2014.
Such deep and narrow gorge reminds me of the fantastic deep and winding gorge in Goosenecks State Park
in southeast Utah near the border of Arizona, USA as shown on my web page at:
This spectacular Gooseneck is carved by the winding San Juan River which eventually also flows into Colorado
Such deep and narrow gorge also reminds me of the Horseshoe Bend of Colorado River 5 miles southwest of
the town of Page in Arizona as shown on my web page at:
Therefore, in recent few years, we have toured three very different kinds of canyons: namely the Grand
Canyon, the narrow but very deep gorges, and Antelope (Slot) Canyon as shown on my web page at:
They are very different types of canyon, but are all spectacular and very impressive in their own ways.
Blue colored metal hand rails provide safety as the walkway takes visitors right up to the jagged canyon's edge
to enjoy the fantastic views. We didn't realize there was so much to see until we got out of the car and walked
close to the edge of the deep gorge. Amazing views！
Railing-protected viewpoint on the edge of the gorge. However, the walkways to the scenic views are not flat;
you will have to walk down makeshift, rough and uneven stone steps. This may be problematic for handicap
There is an open air market here with several rows of Navajo stands operated by the Native American artists
and vendors selling their handmade crafts, jewelry, pottery, beads, ornaments, mementos, etc.
The magnificent Meteor Crater （ 隕石坑） created by a meteorite impact about 50,000 years ago in
Arizona. Meteor Crater lies at an elevation of about 5,709 feet above sea level. It is about 4,000 feet in
diameter, some 570 feet deep, and is surrounded by a rim that rises 150 feet above the surrounding plains. If
they played a football game in the bottom of this crater, the sides could hold two million fans.
I had to use my Google Nexus 10 tablet to take this panoramic picture of the immense Meteor Crater. Standing
on the rim, the view of my compact super-zoom camera is not wide enough to get the whole crater.
When the meteorite hit, the resulting mighty shock wave devastated the area and scattered debris for miles
around. The meteorite was vaporized in the explosion generated by the impact; today, all that's left of it is
thousands of tiny fragments scattered across the land.
Two aerial views of the immense meteor crater can be seen at the following tow pictures:
Picture 1 of aerial view of Meteor Crater
Picture 2 of aerial view of Meteor Crater
站在大 隕石坑 的邊緣，讓人深深的體會到隕石撞擊力量之巨大。
From the rim, views of this immense crater leave one speechless.
The Meteor Crater Natural Landmark is approximately 37 miles east of Flagstaff near Winslow in Northern
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Meteor Crater
Direction: From Flagstaff, go east on Interstate Highway I-40 for about 37 miles, then take Exit 233 and go
south on Meteor Crater Road for six miles to reach the Meteor Crater.
從 180 號景區公路上 黃松和白楊的樹林裡 開出來，然後上 40 號的州際大公路，晴空萬
On the morning of October 13, 2014, from Grand Canyon Village, we drove southeast on Scenic Highway 180
through the forest of Ponderosa pine and aspen to reach Flagstaff, then we drove east on Interstate Highway
I-40 on the huge flat desert of Arizona to go to Meteor Crater and to Petrified Forest National Park.
Distance view of the rim of Meteor Crater as we were driving south on Meteor Crater Road from I-40 Exit 233
toward the Meteor Crater. The rim is about one mile wide.
The Visitor Center as we were getting closer to the Meteor Crater.
There are outdoor observation trails, air conditioned indoor viewing, a theater showing an educational movie
about the Meteor Crater, Interactive Discovery Center, displays on the meteorite, unique gift and rock shop,
and Astronaut Memorial Park at the Visitor Center located on the crater rim, and the Apollo astronauts who
trained here briefly because NASA thought the landscape was much like what they'd encounter on the Moon.
“IMPACT, Mystery of Meteor Crater” movie in the theater featuring exciting 3D modeling and animation allows
viewers to experience the thunderous sound and explosive fury of the meteor’s super-heated trip through the
Earth’s atmosphere. The spectacular result of the collision that rocked the American Southwest with the energy
of more than 20 million tons of TNT.
Some visitors touring the rim of the Meteor Crater.
Grand Canyon is created over many million years, but this Meteor Crater is created in split second.
One of several lookout points to view the Meteor Crater.
Thanks to the dry climate in Arizona, this is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth.
Several breathtaking views of this Meteor Crater can be seen at the following website:
One of several Lookout spots at Sunset Point Rest Area.
We flew from Newark Airport in New Jersey to Phoenix Airport in Arizona on October 7, 2014 and got a rental
car from the airport. The driving loop of our 2014 one-week sightseeing tour in Arizona is the following:
Phoenix -> Sedona -> Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument -> Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
-> Meteor Crater Natural Landmark -> Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert -> Phoenix
The spectacular panoramic photos and associated stories of our 3-day tour of Grand Canyon National Park
(South Rim) are on my web page at:
The photos and associated stories of our 3-day tour of beautiful Sedona are on my web page at;
The photos and associated stories out tour of Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert are on my
web page at:
While driving on Highway 89 from Flagstaff going north to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in the
afternoon of October 9, 2014, we saw yellow colored aspen groves at a great distance on the San Francisco
Volcanic Mountain as shown above. (This Picture was taken by May Lee.)
著， 煞是撩人， 絢麗的金秋畫廊， 一番別樣味道。
Aspen Forest in their beautiful autumn colors of gold and yellow:
On the morning of October 13, 2014, while driving on the Scenic Highway 180 from Grand Canyon Village going
southeast to Flagstaff, I was delighted to drive through marvelous lush vast forest of Ponderosa pine and the
dense aspen groves taking on a deep golden glow on the mountain side of the massive San Francisco Volcanic
mountain. Autumn makes its mark on these mountains, and in lovely ways: here and there.
The ground levels at Grand Canyon South Rim and at Flagstaff are about 7,000 feet of elevation. The Scenic
Highway 180 climbs about 1,000 feet in elevation up to the mountain side of San Francisco Volcanic Mountain.
Driving on this Section of Scenic Highway 180 enables visitors to enjoy driving through the forest of Ponderosa
pine and fantastic dense aspen groves in brilliant golden color on the San Francisco Mountain.
But I was busy driving and did not get a chance to take those beautiful pictures. However, beautiful pictures of
stunning show of aspen golden color taken by other people can be seen at:
Picture 1 of Aspen forest in beautiful autumn colors of gold and yellow
Picture 2 of Aspen forest in beautiful autumn colors of gold and yellow
Picture 3 of Aspen forest in beautiful autumn colors of gold and yellow
Autumn colors of aspen are at their peak in the high country around Flagstaff in mid October. It is a magical
time of the year to drive through this section of Scenic Highway 180. The air is crisp and clean, the sun warm,
the sky a deep blue. Driving through these dense glowing golden aspens is a fantastic experience to remember.
According to some hikers and bikers, one of the many great places to view the autumn aspen color is the Inner
Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. The landscape has been described as a Monet-like scene when the leaves
turn colors in the fall. Some of roads and areas for fantastic views of autumn aspen color in this area mentioned
by these hikers and bikers are Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks, Lockett Meadows, Forest Road 418,
Snowbowl Road, Weatherford trail, Hart Prairie Road loop (FR 151) and Waterline Road.
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour loop
of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described on my
web page at: