Explore a Meteor Crater East of the Grand Canyon

Astronaut posing at Meteor Crater in Arizona
Courtesy Meteor Crater

It’s as deep as a 60-story building and as wide as 20 football fields. More than 2 million fans could watch games from the crater rim.

But to really comprehend the vastness of Meteor Crater near Winslow, Ariz., it’s worth pulling off I-40 to see it yourself. It’s just 35 miles east of Flagstaff. 

When the meteor hit Earth 50,000 years ago, it left a crater that remains the best preserved impact site on Earth. And because of that, it continues to help scientists uncover mysteries on other planets. 

What people do not realize is that experiments still take place here. A few years ago, a Mars rover found some rocks. Within days, scientists arrived at the crater to investigate whether those rocks were the same as those found in the crater.

In fact, all Apollo astronauts trained in the crater to prepare for moving around in spacesuits, as well as picking up and collecting rocks with unwieldy space gloves on the moon. When one of the spacesuits tore from hitting a jagged rock in the crater, NASA redesigned the suit. 

Today, you can join Commander Perseus and First Officer Jackie, on an  immersive space flight with special effects and full-motion seats aboard the STS Barringer. You’ll be on a mission to save Earth. You’ll fly down into the crater and then off into space to intersect an asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth.

It’s part of a new 4-D experience that combines HD film with special effects and full-motion seats. It’s in Meteor Crater Discovery Center.

Observation deck outside of the Meteor Crater Visitor Center.
Observation deck outside of the Meteor Crater Visitor Center.Courtesy of Meteor Crater

Then step outside to gaze at the crater, stopping at various viewpoints that have scenic magnifiers. When you get too hot, bask in the air-conditioned building to see fascinating exhibits and learn about the Apollo astronauts who trained there. You can even watch a reenactment of the crater crashing into the Earth 50,000 years ago. 

When you get hungry, dine in the new Blasted Bistro Restaurant and then peruse the expanded Gift Shop.

The crater’s enormity is stunning and even hard to comprehend as you stand on its edge looking down into it. 

“If this happens again in, say, downtown Manhattan, 9 million people would be gone in seconds,” says Brad Andes, former president of Meteor Crater Enterprises.

Related stories: Two Landmarks That Helped Americans Land on the Moon | One Giant Leap

For more information:
Meteor Crater
Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow, AZ 86047
(800) 289-5898