- Just north of Flagstaff
- Flat to Hilly
- Suitable Vehicle:
- Any Vehicle
- 70 mile loop
- 2-3 hours
- Drivable year round
DescriptionThere's a story of cataclysm and survival written in the landscape along this scenic drive. The Volcanoes and Ruins Scenic Loop Drive passes through the most recently active portion of the San Francisco volcano field surrounding Flagstaff, and at the same time offers access to some of the most notable and best preserved ancient Indian ruins in northern Arizona.
The last eruption in this area occurred around A.D. 1250 or so, as the earth's surface opened to spew cinders, lava and molten globs of rock into the air. Wounds heal slowly in this arid land, so much of the area looks as if had been fuming and spurting just yesterday.
Living in the area before during and after the period of volcanic activity (about A. D. 1064 to 1250) was a group of people archaeologists call the Sinagua. Their name comes from the name the early Spanish explorers gave the San Francisco Peaks-Sierra sin agua-the mountains without water. The Sinagua people were prosperous farmers and traders who left abundant evidence of their presence throughout the Flagstaff area. The apartment houses, ball courts, and artifacts they left behind stand for us to admire as a tribute to their ingenuity.
From Flagstaff, drive 12 miles northeast on US 89 to the Sunset Crater -Wupatki turnoff (FR 545), and turn east (right). It''s about 36 miles around this road back to US 89, and then 22 miles back to Flagstaff.