Meteor Crater: A Big Hole, A Little Gimmick

Just 20 miles west of Winslow, Arizona lies the ‘world’s best preserved meteorite impact site’. On our US road trip, we found that people and places were all too keen to label themselves as the “World’s Best” or “World’s Oldest” or “World Famous”. It’s the marketing ploy that screams tourist trap… and it’s sad that people fall for it. (Okay, okay, we fell for an “As Seen on TV” African village in rural South Carolina. Forgive us.) At the encouragement of my dad, Stella and I stopped at this meteor crater in Arizona.

If the RV park and the signs leading up to it were any indication, it was going to be an all-too-cheesy tourist trap. Meteor Crater is privately owned and costs $15 to enter ($13 with AAA discount). If you can ignore all things gimmicky, you will find that it is an educational experience. At the Visitors Center, they show a 10-minute informational film and there is display area on meteor impact sites around the world. Included in admission is a guided rim tour. And again, if you can get past the cheesy jokes (for example: ‘How is this crater the best preserved? Because we put a cover over it every night.’), the tour guide provided a history and overview of the crater.

Just a few facts about Meteor Crater:

  • Created 50,000 years ago
  • The meteorite was traveling at approximately 26,000 miles per hour upon impact
  • The iron-nickel meteorite was estimated to be 150 feet across & weighing several hundred thousand tons
  • It created a cavity in the Earth that is 700 feet deep and 4000 feet across

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