Location: Painted Desert Vista is about 20 miles northeast of Flagstaff on paved roads. Doney Picnic Area is about 43 miles northeast. The elevation of both is about 6,000 feet.
- Doney Picnic Area (elevation 5300′, Map): 35°31’55.1″N 111°24’17.5″W
- Painted Desert Area (elevation 6201′, Map): 35°23’26.3″N 111°25’55.5″W
Access: From Flagstaff, drive 12 miles northeast on US 89 to the Sunset Crater-Wupatki turnoff (FR 545), and turn east (right) about 8 miles to Painted Desert Vista. Or drive 34 miles on US 89 to the north end of the Wupatki Loop Road and turn east 9.5 miles to the Doney Picnic Area. All roads are paved.
Click map image for PRINTABLE view.
These two out-of-the-way picnic areas are located in the most recently active portion of the San Francisco volcano field. That doesn’t mean they’re dangerous, however. The volcanoes in this vicinity have been dormant for 800 years. What it does mean is that this scenery is some of the most unique in Arizona. Cinder cones and lava flows dot the landscape. Hardy desert plants stand in sharp contrast to the dark volcanic soils in which they struggle for survival. On the horizon the pastels of the painted desert add a streak of color. There’s even a guided nature trail at the Doney area to help you get a better perspective on the landscape, history, and culture of this colorful land.
Also located on the same road are Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments. Sunset Crater features a self-guided nature walk through an extensive lava field and interpretive displays on volcanic activity. The centerpiece of Wupatki National Monument is a four story stone apartment house created around 900 years ago. Wupatki also has interpretive displays on the ancient cultures that once thrived in this seemingly inhospitable area.