SP Crater and Colton Crater
Volcanos in Northern Arizona
The San Francisco Volcanic Field of northern Arizona includes around 600
dormant or extinct volcanos. In the greater Flagstaff region, ancient volcanic
activity produced such large, well-known mountains as the San Francisco Peaks,
Kendrick Peak and Sunset Crater. However, roughly 25 miles north of Flagstaff,
in the middle of nowhere, are two much lesser-known volcanos called SP Crater and
Colton Crater. As cinder cones they still retain the classic look and shape of volcanos.
In fact, if you make the arduous climb to the rim of SP Crater you can actually peer
down into a cone that's so deep and steep that most hikers probably would not dare
drop into it for fear of not being able to climb back out. Nearby Colton Crater is not
quite as dramatic but still very much looks like a volcano. The inside of Colton Crater
is actually wider than the inside of SP Crater but it's much gentler and dropping
down into it is relatively easy. Many other ancient volcanos surround SP Crater and
Colton Crater, most of which have been weathered down over time to smaller cinder
cones or simply hills. The area is also full of deer, elk, antelope and countless
juniper trees, making it a beautiful place to wander to your heart’s content.


  A juniper tree near SP Crater, a cinder cone (dormant volcano) north of Flagstaff, Arizona   A juniper tree near SP Crater, a cinder cone (dormant volcano) north of Flagstaff, Arizona   A juniper tree near Colton Crater, a cinder cone (volcano) in northern Arizona   Full moon rising behind a juniper tree about 25 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona  

    Colton Crater, a cinder cone (volcano) in nothern Arizona. In the distance are the San Francisco Peaks.   Looking into Colton Crater, a cinder cone (volcano) in northern Arizona   A dead Juniper tree at the rim of Colton Crater, a cinder cone (volcano) in northern Arizona    

      At the summit of SP Crater, looking from rim to rim   At the summit of SP Crater, looking from the rim down to the bottom of the cone      


Images from Google Earth
To fully appreciate these volcanos you must get an aerial perspective.
Since I cannot provide that with my own camera I encourage you to
view SP Crater and Colton Crater on Google Earth. As these satellite
images show, SP Crater also has a basalt lava flow spilling from it. Yes, you
can walk around in the "lava", although today the hard, sharp, jagged, black
volcanic rock makes for very slow, awkward "boulder hopping" that's quite
hard on the soles of your boots (and even harder on your body if you fall).
A few other smaller hills and cinder cones are also visible in these images,
as the San Francisco Volcanic Field contains hundreds of volcanos.

           






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