(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?
Hiking trails to the top of Sunset Crater Volcano were closed in 1973, because extensive erosion was damaging the cinder cone. Although tons of cinders were shoveled into the ruts, trail routes are still visible today.