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Continue on the loop road, and in less than one mile, you’ll spot a rugged lava field on your left. Forty-seven miles into your journey, we recommend you get out of the car and venture out onto the Lava Flow Trail – the first quarter-mile of this one-mile trail is paved and gives you an up-close view of lava flows and cinder fields. Your best view of Sunset Crater arrives at mile 49.5 and the Cinder Hills Overlook. Sunset Crater is surrounded by pine forest (we’ve actually spotted bald eagles in this area during the winter), but the foliage changes dramatically as the road loses elevation on the way to Wupatki National Monument. When you’ve traveled 54 miles, you’ll be treated to colorful views of the distant Painted Desert. You’ll reach the entrance to Wupatki National Monument at mile 63. Your first ruin will be Wukoki Pueblo, which is located at the end of a 2.5-mile road that branches off the loop. An easy, 0.2-mile trail leads to the ruins, which are arguably the second best in the monument. The best ruins have to be the Wupatki Pueblo, located at the visitors center. Native Americans called the pueblo home during the 1100s, turning it into a 100-room community. Back on the loop road, you’ll be treated to majestic views of the San Francisco Peaks. Explore other monument ruins including Citadel Pueblo (mile 78.7) and Lomaki Pueblo (mile 79). The road meets up with U.S. 89 83 miles from the ‘Y. Turn left to return to Flagstaff and Sedona.
MORE SEDONA ROAD TRIPS: Lake Powell, Havasu Canyon, photographing Arizona, 3 slot canyons, 10 places to go to beat the Arizona heat, Acoma Pueblo, Grand Canyon, The Wave, Arizona animal parks, Monument Valley, Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, Navajo National Monument, Mormon Lake, Canyon de Chelly