Explore a Meteor Crater East of the Grand Canyon

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Meteor Crater near Winslow, Ariz.

Meteor Crater near Winslow, Ariz.

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.

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," says Dwayne Virgint, general manager of Meteor Crater Enterprises. "A few years ago, a Mars rover found some rocks. Within days, scientists were here to investigate whether those rocks were the same as those found here."

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, says Virgint. 

Today, visitors can gaze at the crater from outdoor viewpoints or go on a guided tour of the rim of the crater. Then cool off and basque in the air-conditioned visitor center inside to watch a 10-minute film and see fascinating exhibits. You can even watch a reenactment of the crater crashing into the Earth 50,000 years ago. 

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.

Observation deck outside of the Meteor Crater Visitor Center.

Observation deck outside of the Meteor Crater Visitor Center.

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


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