New images: Sunset Crater Volcano and Chiricahua National Monuments
Both are volcanic landscapes not usually associated with Arizona, yet they couldn’t be more different. Sunset Crater Volcano preserves lava flows and smooth cinder domes (unfortunately the namesake volcano is closed to hiking), while Chiricahua is a wonderland of rocks with formations of shapes comparable to Bryce Canyon’s famous hoodoos, although lacking their bright colors.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments are a short distance from each through a scenic parkway, so they can be visited together in a loop starting from Flagstaff, right off I-40. You can visit this interesting loop, which offers a variety of sights, in half-a-day, making it a worthwhile detour.
Chiricahua, in South East Arizona is considerably more out of the way, far away from any urban area, at the end of a 30-mile road that winds from I-10 through rural grasslands. Being at a higher elevation, Chiricahua is a vegetated island above the desert. During my visit in May, the temperatures were surprisingly cold. If you like solitude and unusual landscapes, do not miss the park on your way between Arizona and New Mexico.