National Park Service

Southern Colorado Plateau Network (SCPN)

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument (SUCR)

Basalt outcrops in ponderosa pine forest<br />(SCPN photo) Cinder slopes<br />(SCPN photo) Red cinders atop Sunset Crater Volcano give the mountain<br />its name (SCPN photo) Scarlet gilia in cinders<br />(SCPN photo) Long winter shadows across snow in the inner rim of<br />Sunset Crater Volcano (SCPN photo) Looking across an inter-cone basin toward San Francisco<br />Mountain (SCPN photo) View of the southeast flank of Sunset Crater Volcano<br />(SCPN photo) Cinder phacelia<br />(NPS photo) Red and black cinders visible in a ponderosa forest near<br />Sunset Crater Volcano (SCPN photo) Large healthy ponderosa pines at the base of Sunset<br />Crater Volcano (SCPN photo) Ponderosa pines grow sparsely in deep cinders<br />(SCPN photo) Large ponderosa pines and Apache plume at the base of<br />Sunset Crater Volcano (SCPN photo) San Francisco Mountain from the rim of Sunset Crater<br />Volcano (SCPN photo)

Inventory Reports

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Park Flora (SEINet)
NPS Logo Official Sunset Crater Volcano NM Website
SCPN park map
Location of Sunset Crater Volcano NM in the Southern Colorado Plateau Network. Click for larger image.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument encompasses 3032 acres (1227 ha) in north central Arizona. It was established in 1930 to protect significant geological resources of a volcanic eruption that occurred about 900 years ago. In addition to their scientific value, the volcano and associated natural resources continue to have cultural significance to contemporary native tribes.

The vegetation of Sunset Crater Volcano NM is diverse and includes nearly barren cinder beds and rock outcrops, grassy meadows, open stands of trees with sparse understory shrublands, and dense forests on more moist aspects of the highest slopes, drainages, and ridges. Ponderosa pine forests dominate deep cinder deposits and pinyon-juniper woodlands occur in the northwestern portion of the monument.

Surface water is almost non-existent within the monument and some areas, such as the Bonito Lava Flow, are so inhospitable that they likely provide little habitat for wildlife. However, unique habitats have been found within the monument that may shed light on the ecological processes that allow pioneer plants to move into harsh habitats and eventually transform them. Two amphibian, 117 avian, 29 mammalian, and 10 reptilian species have been documented in the monument.

The Southern Colorado Plateau Network is not currently monitoring in Sunset Crater Volcano NM.

Life Zones at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano NM ranges in elevation from 6,810 to 8,010 feet (2,076–2,441 m) at the top of the Sunset Crater cinder cone, and spans the Semi-Desert Grassland/Shrub Steppe, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland and Ponderosa Pine Forest life zones. The monument experiences an average annual precipitation of 16.77 inches (426 mm).

Sunset Crater Volcano Life Zones

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Last Updated: March 23, 2014 Contact Webmaster