Colton Crater Flagstaff Volcanic Field

2:59 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Saturday a friend and I drove up to the Flagstaff Volcanic Field and hiked Colton Crater

This aerial view is of SP Crater with the lava flow top center, Colton Crater is in the center.


Colton Crater with a small upheaval Lava Dome in its center.

We hiked all the way around Coltons rim to a elevation of about 7000 feet. Then my friend hiked down into the crater and on the lava dome. The white spot to the north of the dome is a sandy dry pond or lake bed. many craters in the Flagstaff Volcanic Field have lakes in them. Some have excellent Obsidian pebbles in them. There are about 600 cinder cones and ancient volcanoes in the area. The largest is the San Francisco Peaks which last collapsed like Mt St Helens did. The peaks are also the highest point in Arizoan at 12,663 feet, the second highest point in AZ is also a ancient volcano called Mt Baldy down in Apache County in southcentral Arizona.

Even the north rim of the Grand canyon has a volcano called Vulcans Thone. When it last erupted it filled the Grand Canyon at its base to the rim and backed up the Colorado river father upstream than the Glen Canyon Dam does today.

Today all that is left is a rapids called Lava Rapids which is the highest and longest in the Grand Canyon at 1/4 mile long and 200 feet in height.

There are also lava tubes in and around Flagstaff. The best one on highway 180 leading to the Grand Canyon is a mile long and 200 feet below the ground surface and is entered thru a crack in the crust.

Sunset Crater is Arizona youngest volcano and last erupted about 1000 years ago displacing the indians that farmed in the area. SP Crater (above in 1st image) is the second youngest and last erupted 70,000 years ago.

I no longer have a camera so did not take any pictures from the hike.

3:42 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Sounds adventurous, too bad about your camera. Have you explored any of the lava tubes, or are they off limits. The area you describe is a place I would absolutely visit. The mountain next to my town is a volcano that erupted during prehistoric times. I always find lava rocks, obsidian, prehistoric animal fossils and plant fossils preserved after the eruption. I also enjoy exploring underground places in our local mountains a mines.

5:05 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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This whole area is covered by lava and volcanic cinders ranging in color from black,purple,red,orange,yellow and everything in bteween. Yes, the Lava Tube is visitable. I have been down in it a couple times. The ceiling and floor is covered with uneven rock. Not a tall person place like me. I am 6 ft 7 in. Its hard with even a head light to pay attention to both the uneven floor and ceiling at the same time.

There is another place called Old Caves Crater which has numerous lava tubes and caves that early indians lived in some of.


Flash image inside Lava Tube


Entrance to Old Caves Crater Lava Tube


This is waht it looks like around Flagstaff which is in the lower middle of image. The San Francisco Peaks are the largest volcano just lower right of center. All of the bumps on this map are volcanoes and cinder cones. A cinder cone is a upheaval dome of rock and lavav that never erupted or does not have  crater in it. Sunset Crater is just NE of the peaks.

A huge lava flow is visable in the upper right corner. Tho the whole area is covered by many lava flow.

9:47 a.m. on April 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank you for the pictures and info Gary. The area is definitely awesome.

6:24 p.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes....thanks Gary!

That is a really cool area, one I would definitely go exploring in.

June 23, 2018
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