Barringer Meteor Crater National Natural Landmark

A few weeks ago, a meteor cruised through the night sky here in Michigan. It was big news, and we spent a good part of our homeschool day watching videos, learning about meteoroids vs. meteors vs. meteorites. (Read our previous post here.) It was fun, and the kids seemed to learn a lot. Since we were heading to Arizona soon, I added Barringer Meteor Crater National Natural Landmark to our itinerary. Meteor Crater Enterprises operates the visitors center – you can learn more about their hours, admission, etc. here.

We stopped at Meteor Crater on our way to the Grand Canyon. It’s about 30 minutes east of Flagstaff, so a bit out of the way. We had already had a long day and debated about going, but ultimately decided to give it a shot. The drive is pretty uneventful, though you will see one or two cool things, like an abandoned service station and Canyon Diablo (we still don’t know what that is). When we finally arrived, a visitors center perched on a large hill greeted us. We were wary, but went inside and bought tickets.

Back outside, we climbed steps. Lots and lots and lots of steps. I guess that should have been our first clue on the size of the crater. Finally we reached the rim and were shocked at how big the crater was. The crater is nearly a mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and 550 feet deep. Multiple viewing platforms give you a chance to try and take it all in. Observation telescopes (i.e. “spy glasses”) allow a closer look at details of the crater and items left behind by humans (an American flag). Our kids had a great time running up and down all the trails, discovering things and taking tons of pictures. It really is pretty cool.

Here’s a pano I took from one of the top viewing stations. For scale, you can see the visitors center in the upper right of the picture.

So, would I go again? Yes, if we were in the area. Especially if we were studying astronomy or I had a kid interested in astronomy. Otherwise, no, I probably wouldn’t seek it out. Adult tickets are $18 each and junior tickets (ages 6 – 17) are $9 each.

Now, who can tell me what Canyon Diablo is?

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