Route 66 & Meteor Crater

The flat, open plains surrounding the meteor crater.
 After following Route 66 through Winslow and rejoining I-40 at exit 252, we took a side-trip to check out Meteor Crater. I had been there years before, but Youngest-daughter had never been. Taking exit 233 (Meteor Crater Rd.), we drove the 2-lane road 6 miles south to the crater itself. The first 5 miles or so is just lonely, flat plains with an occasional scrub brush somehow eeking out life, but then you notice what looks to be a large hill up ahead and all of a sudden you come to the end of the road and pull into a black-top parking lot at the bottom of a very large, abrupt rise in the ground. You have arrived at the best preserved meteor impact crater in the world.

Around 50,000 years ago, an iron-nickel meteor estimated to have been 150 feet across, weighing over 200,000 tons and traveling at 26,000 miles per hour slammed into the earth with a force greater than 20 million tons of dynamite. The impact generated extremely powerful shock waves which totally devastated everything for several miles around. As the meteor hit the ground, pressures rose to over 20 million pounds per square inch and rock, iron and dirt either vaporized or melted.

When the dirt settled, a round crater more than 700 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across was left in this previously flat plain. More than 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone had been thrown out in a blanket of debris for over a mile away from the crater. The pressure of the impact was so strong that small concentrations of graphite in the meteorite were transformed into diamonds.

After paying the entrance fee and before heading out to the crater, be sure to take in the film (10 minutes in length and shown every 1/2 hour) in the visitor center. I would also strongly suggest you sign up for one of the guided tours given by one of the Meteor Crater Enterprises "Rangers" as you get to walk out and see more of the crater and the guide will provide a number of interesting factoids and answer any of your questions.  (Contrary to what most people think, although the crater has been designated a Natural Landmark by the Department of the Interior, this is not a national park - it is privately owned and operated.)
One big hole in the ground!

Of course we stopped in the Rock Shop and gift shop after our very interesting tour. I picked up a beautiful set of hand-made earrings to surprise Mama-woman back home and Youngest-daughter and I picked out a couple of really cool t-shirts. Gotta be able to say, "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt!" After a sandwich from the on-site Subway, we were soon on our way back to catch Route 66 west and continue our trip.

This is a side trip well worth the time and few miles away from Route 66. Youngest-daughter still talks about being there and seeing it. You really must see it for yourself because words just can't convey how big the crater is, but trust me, this is one big hole in the ground!

Old cabin ruins from the early 1900's when the crater was
being researched to determine how it came to be and if it
would be a good source of iron. You will only get to see
this if you take a guided tour.



Youngest-daughter trying to show how big the crater is!
Me standing on the edge of the crater. This picture was taken
by our guide. A couple of steps back and it would have
been a long way down!







Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state:

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