The portal to Highway 89’s plateau section of scenery opens at Sedona, Arizona, tagged by USA Today as America’s most beautiful location for a small city. The road then climbs through spectacular switchbacks in Oak Creek Canyon and once the Mogollon Rim is attained, travelers are treated to the cool scent of North America’s largest stand of ponderosa pines. Soon, the graceful outline of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain in Arizona at 12,633 feet, and just one of over 460 volcanoes located in the area. The Peaks were formed in the last two million years and most likely were an additional 3,000 feet higher before they catastrophically lost their top, either in a big blast or a violent collapse. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, just north of the Peaks off of Highway 89, is the youngest volcano in this field and was actively erupting about 950 to 750 years ago when Sinagua Indian farmers tilled their fields of corn.