Route 66: Meteor Crater Arizona

As I mentioned in a previous post, my favourite thing about a road trip is that you can pull over and stop whenever you feel like it.

In the past most of the travel I did was solo travel, so often I’d be watching from a bus window as interesting looking places flew by. But with the luxury of a car we were free to stop whenever we wanted on our US road trip. And on Route 66 there is a lot of stuff you want to stop for!

Area 51

Why wouldn’t you stop at this service station?

After spending the night in a wigwam, our first stop the next day was the Meteor Crater Arizona, the world’s best preserved meteorite site.

Wigwam Motel

Waking up in a wigwam

Meteor Crater Arizona

And the Meteor Crater Arizona is our first stop of the day

I must admit that Mr A is a bit of a space geek, so he was much more enthusiastic about going here than me; but in the end I was actually really surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Scientists believe that the crater, near Winslow, was caused by an asteroid travelling at around 26,000 miles per hour, about 50,000 years ago. It is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.

As soon as we arrived at the Visitor Centre we watched a short film which explained what causes meteors. There is also a museum, packed with space information and artefacts, as well as activities for kids.


The largest remaining fragment of the meteor that created the crater

We then went on a half-hour guided tour along the crater rim, where a really helpful guide gave us some more history about its ownership and information about the work that scientists now do there.

Meteor Crater Arizona

The view from the top

The site was originally purchased in 1903 by mining engineer Daniel Barringer. He thought he would be able to mine for the metal content of the meteorite, which would have been worth a fortune.

It was only after spending a lot of time and money looking for it that scientists discovered that it would have vaporised on impact.

However the site remains in the same family today and they continue to allow scientific experiments to take place there. During the 1960s, NASA astronauts even trained there before their Apollo missions to the Moon.

Meteor Crater Arizona

An Apollo test capsule

It’s kind of hard to grasp how big the hole is when you’re stood looking down into it. But something that really put it into perspective for me was the model of a 6ft astronaut, which has been placed in the bottom of it. It can’t even be seen by the naked eye from the top and I only noticed it when I looked through a telescope on the observation platform.


Putting it into perspective

The visit definitely brought science to life for me and it’s easy to see why people have spent more than 100 years trying to figure out the crater’s origins.

Entrance to the Meteor Crater Arizona is $18 for adults and $9 for children.