Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
Timothy and Michael Riordan built the Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff in 1904. The Riordan’s were owners of Flagstaff’s logging company and their wives were sisters. The brothers built two large mansions side by side on a 50-acre low grassy hill. The mansion was first called Kinlichi, which is Navajo for the red hill.
Charles Whittlesey was the architect for the mansions. Whittlesey later went on to design and construct El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon. The craftsman style of architecture is evident in both homes and in El Tovar.

The mansions used pine, native volcanic rock, and stone for its construction. Each of the two-story homes includes approximately 5,000 feet and 40 rooms. A single story recreation room or billiard room connects the two homes.

Riordan Mansion opened as a state park in 1983. Tours are offered daily. During the tour, you will see original artifacts, furniture, and mementos left by the Riordan Family. The home contains a collection of furnishing from Edison, Stickley, Tiffany, and Steinway.
The park has a visitor center and picnic tables. The visitor center offers an exhibit area, informative slide program, and a children’s area. Visitors will receive a brochure when embarking on a self-guided tour of the mansion. The brochure describes the mansion and surrounding attractions.

The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is open every day from 8:00 to 5:00 during May through September with tours at 9:00,10:00, 11:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00. During October through April the park is open 12:30 to 5:00 with tours at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00. The cost of admission is $4.00 for adults and $2.50 for children under 13.

The park is located at 1300 Riordan Ranch Street in Flagstaff near the northwest part of Northern Arizona University. You can get to the park from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 17 north out of town toward Flagstaff. Once you junction of Interstate 17 and Interstate 40 continue to head north approximately a half of a mile on Milton Road. Then turn right on Riordan Road and follow the signs to the park.
It is recommended that you call in advance for reservations and allow at least an hour for your visit. The number is 520-779-4395.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Over 900 years ago, Sunset Crater Volcano erupted sending ash over 800 square miles and lava down to the base of the crater leaving behind black rivers of hardened lava. The crater spouted great quantities of black ash, which completely engulfed the Indian pueblos, very much as Vesuvius covered Pompeii. Sunset Crater was the last volcano to erupt in Arizona.

In 1892, John Wesley Powell, a Colorado River navigator gave the volcano cone its name. The name came from the way the volcano takes on a rosy shade right before sunset. The cone is dark in color at its base and gradually changes to a red, orange and yellow color leading up to its summit. It is a beautiful sight to behold.

Then in the 1930’s, Hollywood came to Sunset Crater Volcano and proposed using dynamite to create an avalanche for an upcoming movie. Local citizens protested and Sunset Crater became a National Monument. Today, visitors will see a cinder cone rising 1,000 feet above the ground. You can walk trails and stop at viewpoints to see this spectacular crater. The area abounds with fossils of various marine animals, evidence of the great sea that once covered this region. Two interesting volcanic features can be seen at Sunset Crater, they are squeeze-ups and hornitos.

Hiking is no longer allowed on the slopes of Sunset Crater because the footprints made created streaks, which ruin the beauty of the crater. It is important that individuals stay on the designated paths to protect this fragile resource. Hikers should come prepared wearing sturdy hiking shoes.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument has a variety of trails for hikers. The Lava Flow Trail begins just one and a half miles east of the Visitor Center. It is a self-guided loop trail covering one mile. The trail loops across a lava flow at the base of Sunset Crater. This hike explores volcanic formations. You will need to allow about 45 minutes for this hike. The Lenox Crater Trail begins one mile east of the Visitor Center. It provides a glimpse at the cinder cone. This trail is an easy climb, yet it requires almost an hour to travel round trip.

The Visitor Center should be the first stop when visiting Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. A daily 45-minute program is offered at the center. There is a display showing the range of the volcanic field from Flagstaff to the Little Colorado. A hands-on exhibit allows visitors to see and feel volcanic rocks. The showcases represent a variety of insects and plant life, which live in the area around Sunset Crater. Programs are subject to change, so call in advance for exact times.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is open every day from 8:00 to 5:00 and during the summer 8:00 to 6:00, except on Christmas and New Year’s Day. The admission charge is $3.00 and individuals under 17 are free. The crater sometimes does close, due to snow in the wintertime. The best time to make a visit to Sunset Crater is during the spring or summer when the weather is mild. The area experiences windy conditions throughout the year. If you would like more information on the monument, you may call 520-526-0502 or 520-556-7042.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is located 15 miles north of Flagstaff off of Highway 89. If you are coming from Flagstaff take U.S. Highway 89 north out of town, until you come to Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Road. Then take this road to the Crater. If you are coming from Tucson or Phoenix take Interstate 17 north out of town and head to Flagstaff. Once you are in Flagstaff travel north on U.S. Highway 180. Then when you come to Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Road turn and follow the signs to the Crater.

Both Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument are located close together. A 36-mile paved loop road connects the two monuments crossing a lava flow and rejoins U.S. Highway 89. It is a terrific experience if you have time to take in both of these monuments.

Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument is where the past meets the present. Just about 800 years ago, a largely agricultural community sprawled across the base of the San Francisco Peak Mountains. It was the home for the Sinagua people, who farmed the land and traded with other cultures. Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish, which refers to their farming methods. It is believed that the today’s Hopi Indians are descendants of the original people that lived at Wupatki. At one time, this region must have been one of the most populated parts of northern Arizona.

Today, their masonry pueblos emerge from the rocks standing several stories high. The Pueblos are so well preserved it is hard to believe that they have stood for so many years. One of the most impressive ruins is Wupatki or “Tall House”. It contains more than 100 rooms and towered three stories high. A ball court is at one end of Wupatki. The court is similar to those found in Mexico. An open-air amphitheater is also located in Wupatki. The circular amphitheater might have been used for meetings or ceremonies.
If you look to the north of Wupatki, you will see a mesa about a mile away. On top of this mesa is another ancient ruin. There are hundreds of ruins all within the 35,253-acre National Monument. The Citadel, Nalakihu, Lomaki and the Wukoki are just some of the ruins that can be reached by short, self-guided hiking trails. Remember to please do not pick up any pottery shards. Each shard is an important piece of the past. Take nothing and leave only your footprints.

The Visitor Center has a room that has been built to recreate the interior of a room in Wupatki. There are exhibits describing the Navajo and Hopi people living nearby today. A collection of plant life and insects is also on display. A 15-minute talk about the culture from the past is offered at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has books, maps, and posters for purchase. Visitors will find a picnic area available outside the Center.

The monument is open every day from 8:00 to 5:00 September through May and 8:00 to 6:00 June through August, except on Christmas. The admission charge is $3.00 a person and children under 17 are free. You will want to plan for a stay of at least an hour to take in the whole monument. Please call to find out exact times. If you would like more information on the monument, you may call 520-679-2365.

Wupatki National Monument is located 39 miles north of Flagstaff, just off of Highway 89. You can get there from Flagstaff by taking U.S. Highway 89 north out of town until you come to the turn off for Wupatki or Forest Road 545. Turn left and head east following the signs to the monument. If you are coming from Tucson or Phoenix take Interstate 17 north out of town to Flagstaff. Once you are in Flagstaff continue north on U.S. Highway 180, until you come to the junction with U.S. 89. Then take U.S. Highway 89 northeast to the turn off for Wupatki or Forest Road 545. Turn left and head east following the signs to the monument.

Both Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument are located close together. A 36-mile paved loop road connects the two monuments crossing a lava flow and rejoins U.S. Highway 89. It is a terrific experience if you have time to take in both of these monuments.
While attending Northern Arizona University, I would head out to Wupatki to study. I found great focus in the winds of a great past.