It has been a busy couple of months here at Scoutnabout. We have been travelling and adventuring, and now it is (past) time to start getting some of these posts out that I have been promising. So, sit back and buckle up, because our first adventure is going to take us to the world’s most preserved meteor impact site, located in northern Arizona- appropriately named, Meteor Crater.
Meteor Crater is located in northern Arizona, about 20 miles west of Winslow, and 35 miles east of Flagstaff. If you have a few hours to spend sightseeing in the area, it is definitely worth checking out, as it is so much more than just “a hole in the ground”!
Come On In
We start our exploration in the visitor’s center.
This is also where you will pay your entrance fee. At the time we visited, it was $18.00 per person (I believe that was after a discount). They offer several discounts, so be sure to ask.
Here, there are displays that are full of information. Read about the impact of the meteorite as you make your way out the doors to the observation decks, the theaters, gift shop, coffee shop, and most importantly, the crater itself!
Small Steps and Giant Leaps
Once outside, follow the steps up to the upper level. Here they have an exhibit of the Apollo 11 space capsule that was used for training by the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
These astronauts had to get their small steps in somewhere before taking that giant leap for mankind, and those small steps were taken here, inside the Meteor Crater!
Take a look inside the capsule and get a feel for what it might have felt like to be one of the occupants in it.
While you are out here, wander over to the large, open-air window,
and don’t forget to grab a selfie with the small little alien keeping guard outside of the space capsule – after all, this is Arizona…
Pass The Popcorn
Okay, no popcorn, but the movie is worth it, even without popcorn.
Let’s head inside where we will find a discovery center, crater tours and a theater. We are going to the theater first, while we wait for the next tour.
This is an 80 seat, widescreen theater that features the film “Impact, The Mystery of Meteor Crater”. Here, you will learn all about the impact itself and how they were able to prove that this, in fact, really is a meteor crater. This is a short film, but really worth watching prior to touring the crater rim!
Walking The Edge
First, do not be misled by some of the writeups online about hiking the rim of the crater. There are no hikes, guided or unguided, that will go completely around the crater. You may only hike the allowed section if you are on a guided tour – in other words, you cannot be out on the rim of the crater alone.
The tour groups are not huge, maybe a dozen or slightly more people and the tour guide. Meet just inside the doors by the entrance to the rim. Here, your guide will tell you the rules of being on the rim, and let you know that if you feel you will not be able to, or want to, finish the tour, to opt out now before going outside.
Once you are on the rim, you are on the rim for the duration. Hold on to your hats, sunglasses, small children – anything or anyone that you don’t want blown away – the wind is brutal on the rim!
As you walk the rim, your guide will make stops along the way. This gives the guide an opportunity to share facts and tidbits of information regarding the crater with you, as well as giving you a chance to get some great photo shots.
The hike itself is about a mile out and back, and will last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on how much your guide wants to talk. If you are lucky, your guide will be full of fun, interesting facts about how the crater was formed, what happened when the meteor hit, who owns the crater now, and some interesting stories about people who have been to the bottom of the crater, and why you will not be one of them.
A Few Fun Facts
☄️The crater was formed about 50,000 years ago.
☄️The crater was formed when an asteroid, about 150 feet across, crashed into the earth travelling at about 8 miles per second!
☄️The impact was enormous! It created an explosion that has been compared to 10 million tons of TNT, or a 10 megaton atomic bomb!
☄️The size of the crater measures about 3,900 feet in diameter (you can fit over 20 football fields in the bottom of it!), about 560 feet deep, and has a rim that is roughly 150 feet above the surrounding area. The impact lifted over 5 million tons of rock into the air- which would have blocked the sunlight.
☄️Daniel Barringer was the first person to suggest this crater was a result of a meteor. The Barringer family later purchased the crater and its surroundings, thereby giving Meteor Crater its second name of Barringer Crater.
☄️As noted earlier with the Apollo 11 space capsule, the crater was used by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to train for their mission to the moon. The crater was the only place on earth that was able to actually simulate the surface of the moon.
☄️If you look closely into the bottom of the crater, you will see a small fragment of white. This is actually part of a plane (this should give you an idea of just how vast this crater is!). In 1964, a plane flew over the crater and ultimately was unable to maintain the altitude they needed to clear the rim. As a result, the plane crashed at the bottom of the crater. The pilots did somehow manage to survive, but removing the plane was going to prove futile. As a result, the plane parts are still there today!
Observe and Enjoy
If you do not wish to take the guided Rim tour (or even if you do take the tour), wander out to the observation decks. Here you can choose from two different decks. Look through the telescopes to see the crater up close! It is also a great place to get some awesome photos of the crater!
Coffee and a Souvenir
After your guided Rim tour, don’t forget to stop by the coffee shop and gift shop!
The coffee shop offers a wide variety of coffees, drinks and food. I did order a coffee, and it was probably among the most expensive coffees I have ever had, but it was good. I’m not positive it was $9 good, but I will tell myself that it will help keep the doors open to visitors of the Meteor Crater!
The gift shop is your typical gift shop, offering stickers, magnets, books, shirts and miscellaneous gifts. I always make sure to grab us a sticker and a magnet – because if you don’t have a sticker or a magnet, did you really go?
This was a great way to spend a day passing through Arizona! If you are travelling in an RV, there is an RV park conveniently located not far from the crater. This is where we stayed, and I will be posting a review on the park shortly!
See you down the road!