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The Peaks - Where Earth Meets Heaven
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© Christine Till - CT-Graphics
The San Francisco Peaks, known locally as simply The Peaks, are a volcanic mountain range located in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff. They collectively represent six summits that circle the caldera of a now quiet volcano. Humphreys Peak, at 12,633 feet, is the tallest in Arizona. Agassiz Peak soars to 12,356 feet, and Fremont Peak climbs to 11,969 feet.
Most volcanoes form near the edges of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust. However, Arizona is located far from the boundary of the North American Plate. It is believed that a trapped area of molten rock deep beneath Northern Arizona, called a "hot spot", occasionally rises up and creates volcanoes as the plate moves slowly west. The most recent volcanic eruption was nearly 1,000 years ago at nearby Sunset Crater. The Peaks were formed between 500,000 to 1 million years ago and the inner basin has been quiet ever since.
Once the fiery center of one of Arizona's most explosive volcanoes, the summits surrounding the now dormant inner core stand guard, protecting land that the native people of Arizona consider to be so sacred - it is where earth meets heaven. The Navajo consider them to be the most sacred in all the West. The Hopi believe the Kachina spirits live at the top of the mountain, gracefully moving through the clouds from summit to summit.
The Peaks tower so dramatically against the desert landscape of Flagstaff and surrounding area that they are visible from many miles away, and when standing on top of one of these giants on a clear day, one can see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon over eighty miles away as the eagle flys.
July 6th, 2012
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