It does commemorate a notable event. A tremendous explosion that left remnants that you can clearly see, feel and touch. For someone who has always wanted to go to Hawaii to see the volcanos....this is a good second place option. I give huge credit to the National Park Service for making the former "Sunset Mountain" into an attraction that can be enjoyed by all. The area around the crater is accessible to everyone. There is a paved walking path for those of us who are as spry as we used to be. There are trails for those of us who want to be in the thick of things. Or you can see everything from your car. Although I highly encourage you to get out and experience this incredible event that happened over 900 years ago. The lava fields are absolutely amazing as others have mentioned. There are no words to describe the extreme inhospitable lava that spilled over all the vegetation around the crater. It looks like it just cooled from the blast zone and all that remains is a burned and blackened. The former flora and fauna never recovered and all that is left is a colorful, ruggedly dramatic cave-like lava tubes and cracks that will coexisting with twisted Ponderosa Pine or some other plant that managed to take root. Maybe this is why the National Parks used the word Momument. It commemorates what was once alive. But don't be fooled. There is a lot of life when you look for it.
This was supposed to be a quick stop for us on the way to the Grand Canyon. We ended up spending hours here and there were not many people at the time (Spring 2012) of our visit. Our teenage children enjoyed exploring all the twists and turns around the lava spill. A word of caution: the lava is sharp. Imagine huge pumice stones. Which is essentially what the lava is…it does crumb to a fine sand. So you might not want to visit on a very windy day.
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