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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Overnight Camp At Sunset Crater

I camped off the road in the bottom right corner of this image of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Sunset Crater is a eerie "extinct" cinder cone volcano located north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Its last documented eruption was in 1085 CE.

My little dog named Big and I had been exploring northern Arizona on a weekend excursion, and I do not like to drive when tired, so when I saw other cars had camped beside the road, I distanced myself from them, put up my solo tent on the leeward side of my car, and immediately got inside into my sleeping bag. Big curled her little self up close to my side. The place was definitely spooky, so although I could see how others might describe the dusty purples and greens of Sunset Crater as beautiful, it was unsettling to me.

Even decades later in 2015 it was alarming to read:

"A report of a purported "steam cloud" from Sunset Crater near Flagstaff appears to be mis-identification of a smoke plume from a Forest Service prescribed burn near A-1 Mountain a few miles to the southwest that passed over the crater, or possibly an orographic cloud formation in the lee of San Francisco Peak.

"County, state, and federal officials in the Flagstaff area all report that there is no steam or any other activity at the Crater. There is no earthquake activity in the area on the state seismic network that we maintain."

Source:, June 4, 2015

Since it is now very well established that the media and government lie to the public, I do not know what to think. Did Sunset Crater erupt or not? I do know that I would not camp there again, which is moot because my camping days are over.

That night, as I lay there in the lap of that fearful volcano, I recall that some unknown man far, far away called out for help in the dark, because Big silently nudged me awake to hear it. We did not move from our tent because a woman and a very small dog traveling alone are more likely to be victims than successful first-responders.

Why would I stop in such an extraordinary place, and sleep next to a volcano? Because I had had no prior experience with volcanoes, and I wondered about them. I stopped there to look at it, to smell at it, to taste its dust in the air, to feel the ground that had erupted through it from deep within the Earth.

Caption: Sunset Crater Volcano Monument, Arizona


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