(Nathan Munson photo)
For many animals, this is a tough place to survive. Vegetation is sparse and surface water is practically nonexistent. The Bonito lava flow, which covers more than 25% of the monument, is extremely inhospitable. But the monument is surrounded by pine forests which provide foraging habitat for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, bobcat, and coyote, and are home to a variety of small mammals, including the Abert squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and porcupine. Some of these animals wander widely, sometimes into the cinders.
Did You Know?
The Sunset Crater penstemon (Penstemon clutei) is found only on cinder deposits within the San Francisco Volcanic Field, including Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, in northern Arizona.