Meteor Crater

Round Trip Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5620 - 5707 feet
Cellphone: 1-5 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Meteor Crater Visitor Center
Fee: $16/person - $8/ages 6-17 - Free under 5
Attractions: Museum, gift shop, Subway restaurant

Meteor Crater is located about 6 miles south of Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. The crater was created by an asteroid that struck the planet over 50,000 years ago. Within seconds the impact carved out the crater that is over 1 mile wide and 500 feet deep. While the crater is designated as a National Natural Landmark it is not a National Monument but is privately owned by the Barringer families Barringer Crater Company.

The Meteor Crater complex includes a gift shop, museum, Subway restaurant and a RV park located just off the interstate. The one big drawback though is the cost of admission.

Meteor Crater once served as a training ground for Apollo astronauts due to its similarity with craters to be found on the moon.

There are 3 main observation areas where visitors can view the crater.

Moon Mountain requires a little more effort but with an additional 50 feet of elevation it is the one spot where you can look down at the rim of the crater.

It is estimated that the meteor that excavated the crater was traveling at about 28,600 mph. The impact occurred during the Pleistocene epoch when giant sloths and woolly mammoths roamed the area.

Two more observation decks are located below the rim of the crater. It's not everyday that you get to see a crater that was made by a meteor yet alone venture into it.

In the base of the crater is the hole that was drilled to study the impact. If you look closely you will also see an American flag with an astronaut standing next to it.

The museum brings everything together with lots of displays that provide all the details of the impact. There is also a short animated movie that depicts the event.

This is the largest discovered fragment of the meteor that created the crater.

To get a better appreciation of the crater you might consider that this picture was taken from about a half mile away. The crater also looks pretty impressive on the Google map. Meteor Crater is touted to be the best preserved meteor crater on Earth. It has the advantage of not having much in the way of vegetation to obscure its views plus a relatively recent impact date. The novelty of the place would probably get a 5 star rating on this site if it wasn't for the high cost of admission. There is also a 1 mile guided tour along the rim that is available at no extra cost. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.