Hike-in Required
Yes
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
Yes
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bonito Vista Trail is a short, paved path onto the Bonito Lava Flow, which fanned from the base of Sunset Crater as fiery liquid then cooled into black rock. This solidified lava is called basalt. You will find that the basalt here is unlike most other rocks. It is especially dark, jagged, and contorted in shape. That's because it flowed from the earth and cooled in the open air less than 1,000 years ago—practically yesterday in geologic time. This rock is extremely young, and hardly weathered smooth by the elements.

Up close to the basalt, you'll notice its sharp and erratic shapes. These are products of its chaotic and relatively recent cooling process. While the lava was flowing over the ground, its surface cooled fastest because it was exposed to air, creating a hardened shell around still-molten lava in the center. The inner liquid continued to flow and build heated pressure, eventually bursting and spraying out of the shell in many places. You can see evidence in fins, fissures, and blocks scattered near the trail. You can also see the edge of the lava flow, where the layer of basalt ends and cinders and soil are revealed underneath. Read the signs at the trailhead and information at the visitor center to learn more about the volcano's not-so-distant past.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Pros

Close-up view of lava flow. Vista of surrounding landscape. ADA accessible.

Cons

None.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

ADA accessible
Family friendly
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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