Meteor Crater, AZ

Meteor Crater, AZ

After spending three days of looking at the biggest hole in the ground I’ve ever seen (aka the Grand Canyon), we went to go look at a different hole in the ground. The big difference was that this one was made by a meteor. And it’s said to be the best preserved meteorite crater on Earth.

It is about 3,900 feet in diameter, some 570 feet deep, and is surrounded by a rim that rises 148 feet above the surrounding plains. Scientists believe that the crater was created about 50,000 years ago.

crater

The object that created the crater was a nickel-iron meteorite about 150 feet across. The speed of the impact is believed to have been 8-12 miles per second (28,800 – 43,200 miles per hour). The meteorite was mostly vaporized upon impact, leaving little remains in the crater. Some pieces have been found, however, including this one that was on display at the visitor center.

meteorite

The Visitor Center at the crater has some interesting interactive exhibits that kids will especially enjoy, including one that allows you to make your own crater by varying different aspects of the meteor and the area where it lands. Naturally, it became a family competition to see who could make the biggest virtual crater.

The Meteor Crater is located 18 miles west of Winslow AZ, about 5 miles from I-40’s exit 233. The visitor’s center is open daily, with hours that vary by season.  Check their web site for hours and admission prices.

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