Thursday, September 3, 2009

We Saw the Meteor Crater

I keep wanting to call it "Meteor Crater National Park" or "National Monument" or something, but it's actually all privately owned. I can't help thinking it might have been better if it were a National Park. (We have been to sooo many National Parks, and every single one was staffed by Rangers who seem to know everything about the site and can tell the story like nobody's business.) Anyway, about 50,000 years ago a great big meteor hit the Earth, 35 miles east of Flagstaff. Of course, Flagstaff would come into being about 49,895 years later.

Here's a view from the road as you're heading in toward the crater. You can really see how the "arid grassland" was thrust upward by the impact--and it's even more impressive if you've been driving for about 35 miles over nothing but flat desert. The raised rim is 150 ft. high, and the crater is 3/4 mile wide.

As I mentioned, it's privately owned and operated, and I suffered massive sticker shock when we got up to the entrance. (Cost to get in--adults $15, seniors 60+ $14, kids 6-17, $8...which isn't bad if you're spending half a day, but you can see the whole thing, including the movie but not the hike,[cancelled due to electrical storm] in less than an hour.) Of course after driving 35 miles east, then about 6 miles south, you might as well pay the fee to get in or you've done all that for nothing.

Inside, they have an exhibit area (not big enough to call a museum), with several meteorites to touch and many interactive exhibits for the kids. They have a 12 minute movie, during which I kept expecting information about this crater, but the movie was old and very general.
The highlight was going out on the walkway to look at the crater. Here's my teenager looking through one of the telescopes at the bottom of the crater.

And, looking right, middle, and left (below), here it is. It's reported to be 550 feet deep, rim to bottom, and 3/4 mile in diameter. There is a walkway with overlooks down maybe 30 feet below the rim.

It's about as exciting as it looks. I mean, I'm kinda interested in geology and we did see layers of rocks....but, it just didn't meet expectations--I expected to learn more.

I asked my son if he'd recommend to his friends to go there and without hesitation he said, "No, it was boring." I thought it was amazing to see the remnants of a real meteor creater on Earth (I kept thinking of the moon), but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a bit overblown and a bit less educational that I had hoped. Just in case you're interested, here's the website:


  1. It looks like an ordinary pit.

    I'd be bummed at $15 and what's up with seniors only getting a $1 break? That's just wrong.

  2. LMB: I agree about the seniors! They do show you rocks that were melted by the impact, and you can tell how the surface layers were thrust upward, but yes, it is a big pit.

  3. Well, I enjoyed seeing it for free! Thanks for showing us. I thought it was cool. Groovy. and all those other way out words. LOL...

    what really matters is your family being together and seeing it.
    Have a great weekend.


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