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Showing posts from August, 2020

Photo Post: Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff, Arizona

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It’s 4:00 p.m. and I’m in a race against time: after having driven through Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano national monuments earlier in the day, I’ve got just one hour to visit the last of the Flagstaff-area monuments before closing time.

The park ranger at the front desk lets me continue through the visitor center after I display my annual parks pass, and once I’m back outside, I quickly descend a steep set of stairs while managing to not fall off the cliffside of Walnut Canyon National Monument. Just 185 vertical feet later, and I’ve made it down to the trail that loops around an “island” floating above a meander of Walnut Canyon.

Photo Post: Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Flagstaff, Arizona

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As I drive south from Wupatki National Monument, junipers begin to replace the sparse scrubland of the high desert north of Flagstaff, Arizona. But it’s not long before the juniper woodland gives way to hardened lava, rolling hills, and ponderosa pines.


I search for the namesake peak of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument between the pine branches as I drive around one hillside to another, and then—there it is: a clean, Platonic-ideal-form cinder volcano with a ruddy, “sunset” gradient from red to gray on its side.

I’m momentarily distracted as a striking Steller’s Jay flies by, its own blue-and-ashy-gray feathers painted the complete opposite of Sunset Crater’s gradient.