Constellations/Sky Travel

Meteor Crater | Arizona

(Last Updated On: May 3, 2019)

Fifty thousand years ago a large meteor struck Arizona in the middle of the desert. Some folks in our tour group asked if this was the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, but that was 65 million years ago, a big difference from 50,000 years ago. This meteor, which was around 150 feet long, did make a massive crater and flattened everything with sixty-five miles.

Meteor Crater is massive.

You can visit Meteor Crater on I-40 east of Flagstaff. The crater is family-owned and operated, and they’ve done a nice job with the presentation. Though it is a bit expensive, the cost is well worth this unique site that has no parallel anywhere in the US.

Visitor Center

There is a large Visitor Center on the rim of the crater. The first thing you come to inside is the largest known fragment of the meteor. It is only about a meter across (we saw a second slightly smaller shard at Lowell Planetarium in Flagstaff). Every half hour a movie is played in the theater. This 20 minute movie explains what scientists know and what theories they have about the meteor and the resultant crater.

Make sure to rub the Meteorite shard for good luck.

Guided Rim Tour

Immediately after the movie, we took a guided rim tour. They have tours every hours and a “ranger” leads you along the paved path for about a half mile. These tours are included in the cost of your ticket, but since they are only every hour, make sure to plan your visit in include a tour.

The rangers points out interesting items like the crashed airplane in the crater, the American flag, and an old residence right on the rim. We learned some pretty amazing facts, like that if the crater were a stadium, 2 million fans could watch 20 football games played on the floor of the crater simultaneously. The crater is really that big!

The trail walks right along the rim of Meteor Crater.
We learned a lot of interesting facts from our tour guide.
Our boys were chosen to search for meteorite pieces with magnets. It was so cool to see how many are still around.
There are some old ruins of where the first Visitor Center area was located.

If you’re not up for the hike, there are overlooks and viewpoints along the opposite rim. A separate trail leads to platforms that view the nearly round crater from different angles.

We really enjoyed the Rim Tour.

Museum

Back inside the Visitor Center there is also a museum. It walks you through a history of meteor strikes and gives information about the destructive potential of this phenomenon. We also learned the difference between meteors, meteorites, meteoroids, and other objects in the sky. We spent nearly an hour in the museum.

The museum had lots of great info, and plenty of hands-on activities for the kids.
There is a great view of the crater from the Museum, too.

With the movie and the rim tour, plan on at least three hours at Meteor Crater. It’s a really interesting three hours, too! We were impressed with Meteor Crater. If you are looking for other adventures near Flagstaff, check out our complete list.

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2 Comments

    • Visitors are not allowed to go into the Crater. Only scientists are allowed down in, so the rim trail walk is the best look you can get.