Sunday, August 14, 2011

SP Crater Volcano, Monsoon Green, Northern Arizona

[Photo: S P Crater Volcano, northern Arizona.
Click on picture for larger version.]
SP Crater is an 800 foot tall, 70,000 year old cinder cone volcano located about 25 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. It's located on the Babbitt Ranches land, but public access is granted. There are no signs indicating where to turn off of US Hwy 89. It's a flat dirt road that should be avoided when it's wet! Unless you enjoy being stuck out in the middle of nowhere. A beautiful nowhere, though.

I was out there recently because I enjoy the expansive views there on the very northern edge of the San Francisco Volcanic Field. There are over 600 identified cinder cones in this 50-mile wide swath of old volcanoes, but most of them to the south are much older, more eroded, and often heavily forested, somewhat disguising their origins.

This view from the south side of SP does not show one of its most amazing features: a four mile long, 80 foot tall lava flow that spreads out across the landscape. But this view does show how much older the cone to the left is in comparison to SP, which is partially covering its flank.

Our recent, and bountiful, monsoon season rains had the ranch land verdant with tall grasses and wildflowers. There were plenty of Babbitt cattle slowly wandering around, but the sheer lushness of the grasses seemed as if no amount of cattle could eat but a small amount of it. It looked like a rancher's heaven.

You might also be interested in my Grand Canyon Photography blog.

See more of my photography at