As you know, we here at Val in Real Life like to learn when we’re traveling. Fred and George don’t travel with me as often these days but when they do, I still like to sneak in some learning that doesn’t feel like education.
So when George asked if we could stop at Meteor Crater on our way through Arizona this summer, of course the answer was yes. We first visited in 2009 and, since he was only six-years-old then, I knew his experience would be much different this time. Fred, being in full-on teenager mode these days, wasn’t interested at all but he humored our stop.
Exploring Meteor Crater…
Unlike many “roadside” attractions, especially along Route 66, Meteor Crater offers more than a curious spectacle. For those interested in having a better understanding of the world around them, Meteor Crater is a unique look at some of the incredible forces that have shaped our planet.
The exhibits address the history of the discovery and exploration of the crater as well as the technical aspects of its formation. Displays, interactive stations, and a movie bring the story together in different ways. There are many hands-on activities to keep all ages engaged, from designing your own crater impact to looking at rocks under a magnifying scope. Let’s face it, we adults love to fiddle, touch, and play as much as kids and you’ll get the opportunity at Meteor Crater.
Outside the walls of the visitor center, you’ll find the expanse of the crater. Today it is 550 feet deep and over 4,000 feet wide. As impressive as it is in size, more impressive are the forces that created it. A meteorite 150 feet across, weighing several hundred thousand pounds, and traveling at 26,000 miles per hour hit the earth with the force of more than 20 million tons of TNT. The quietness that surrounds the crater now belies the chaos that took place here of 50,000 years ago.
- Meteor Crater is privately owned and hours vary slightly by season.
- It is easily accessed off of I-40, just west of Winslow, Arizona.
- Allow one to two hours to fully enjoy the exhibits and movie. With an additional hour, you can take part in a guided tour of the rim, weather permitting.
- There is a gift shop and Subway restaurant within the visitor center.
For current information, hours, and admission prices, head over to the Meteor Crater site. And they have a great list of online resources in their science section to get you started on discovering more about astronomy.