Bonito View Trail

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona

Trip Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2019
Last Updated: Thursday, February 6th, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★☆☆(3/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.3 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible Yes

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

The Bonito View Trail is a short introduction to the volcanic scenery Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument has to offer. Most of the route is paved and wheelchair accessible, making it great for all ages, including kids in strollers. Periodic benches provide a place to sit and enjoy the natural beauty of Northern Arizona's ponderosa pine forest and mountains. While it might not be the best trail in the park, it's a quick and easy way to experience some nature on your drive through the park.

From the parking lot, follow the sidewalk heading southwest. Notice the black, volcanic gravel contrasting with the light concrete, as pictured below.

The paved trail to the Bonito Lava Flow

The paved trail to the Bonito Lava Flow

To the left of the trail, you'll Sunset Crater rising 1000 feet above you, as pictured below. This now extinct volcano was the last to erupt in Arizona nearly 1000 years ago, and its lava created the jagged basalt formations you'll see along the trail.
Basalt formations with Sunset Crater in the background

Basalt formations with Sunset Crater in the background

To the right, you'll see Lenox Crater and its barren, volcanic summit high above the forest. Although climbing Sunset Crater is no longer allowed, you can hike to the top of Lenox Crater for comparably impressive views of the San Francisco Peaks to the west.
Lenox Crater to the west

Lenox Crater to the west

At the end of the trail, the pavement ends and a short, unpaved segment leads to a final view of the Bonito Lava Flow, as pictured below. A'a lava (pronounced ah ah), a slightly cooler but faster moving type of lava that's also the namesake of the nearby A'a Trail, formed this rough patch of igneous rock after cooling. Imagine what this place looked like with glowing, hot molten rock blanketing the ground! When you're done observing, simply turn around and head back the way you came.
The barren, rough surface of the Bonito Lava Flow

The barren, rough surface of the Bonito Lava Flow

This easy hike is a good way for anyone to step out of the car and view the Bonito Lava Flow. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!



Important Information

Dogs are not allowed on any trails in the park; it's best to leave your dog at home since desert temperatures can kill dogs waiting in cars. This hike is paved and accessible, which means it is also great for families with strollers. You can visit during any season, but be prepared for wind. In the summer, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Winter and early spring may bring snow, but it doesn't usually stick around long. Expect to see people, especially on the weekends.

Directions

From Flagstaff, take Interstate 40 east. Take the exit for U.S. Highway 89, then turn left. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 89. Turn right at the brown sign pointing to the scenic loop road through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. After passing the visitor center, turn right into the parking area signed for the Lava Flow Trail.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Entrance to the park is $25 per vehicle and permits access for 7 days to both Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Interagency passes are also honored here. Visit the park's fees page for more information. There are pit toilets here. Otherwise, the staffed visitor center has restrooms and water in addition to educational exhibits and a gift shop.

External Links

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