Hats off to the Barringer Crater near Winslow Arizona!
When driving through Arizona on Highway 40 you may be tempted to skip Meteor Crater. Meteor Crater is located on a very remote stretch of highway, with many miles between towns and rest stops. It is 6 miles from the freeway. And based on its remote location in Arizona you almost certainly have come a long way and still have a long way to go.
Meteor Crater is definitely worth stopping to see. The crater is enormous – bigger and deeper than it looks in pictures. While the meteor that exploded on the spot was only 150 feet across, and created a crater that is over a mile in diameter.
It is best to visit in the morning if you can so that the sun is behind your you and shining on the crater.
One thing to note is that you cannot see anything of the crater until you pay your admission fee ($22 per adult) and climb up several flights of stairs. (There is an elevator if you need it.) There is nothing you can see without going inside and paying the fee and is no highway scenic view.
Fun for kids and Accessible to Everyone
It is privately run and not cut in the mold of a National Park. For example, one exhibit is a 4D Ride – Collision – featuring a cartoon bunny rabbit. This will be what the kids are talking about as you leave the park. There are a number of kid-friendly features in the discovery center as well. To get the best views you need to climb some stairs; however, with the elevator and the viewing area the crater is fully accessible to everyone. Anyone of any age will have to be gobsmacked by the shear size of the crater!
When it isn’t too windy, a tour guide will take you out on a guided tour where you actually walk on the rim of Meteor Crater. The rim tour takes 45 minutes to an hour and may be the highlight of your visit. However, the day we visited it was too windy and we were not allowed on the rim. The wind was 40 mph on the ground and 60 miles per hour on the rim. Even without going on the rim tour, there are excellent places to view the crater from several outdoor decks. (Get ready for more stairs.) They even have telescopes set up so that you can view various highlights of the crater.
A Geological Paradise
Meteor Crater is in a geological paradise on Highway 40. If you are coming from the East from Albuquerque, New Mexico, you will first run in the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook. Continuing west on Highway 40 for a little over an hour you will see the exit for Meteor Crater, past Winslow, Arizona. If you continue to the west a couple more hours, you will reach Williams, Arizona, from where you will turn off the highway to go to the Grand Canyon. Traveling on Highway 40 is the dream vacation of rock lovers.
The Inevitable Gift Shop
At the end of your time at Meteor Crater, be sure to stop in the gift shop. Quite appropriately, most of the items for sale are rocks. If you like rocks, you will love this gift shop. Sad to say, in this otherwise scientific setting, the gift shop states that the rocks it sells “may” have healing properties. Rocks do not have any healing properties whatsoever. You should buy them for their beauty rather than for healing properties. While National Park gift shops sell rocks, you would never see this type of unscientific claim at one of their gift stores.
Frequently Asked Questions
Meteor crater is on private property, and you need to pay the entrance fee ($18-22) and climb several flights (or take the elevator) before you can see any part of the crater other than the outside ridge. Here is a link to the prices page: https://www.meteorcrater.com/infotickets.html
It is unique because it is a crater made by a meteor instead of by a volcano. Also, it is a very recently-made crater, about 50,000 years ago, so that it hasn’t been filled in over billions of years like the much larger Manson crater in Iowa, which crashed into the earth 74 million years ago.
No. Rocks do not have healing powers. However, there can be a strong placebo effect if you believe in the power of rocks to heal. Moreover, time spent meditating on the beauty of creation is beneficial. There is scientific evidence that time spent meditating is well spent for your emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Purchase rocks for their geological beauty and meditate on them for better health.
Most of the photography on Hats Off America has been shot by Bob and Susan Metoxen. However, for this story it wasn’t possible to get a picture of the entire meteor from the areas we were allowed to go. I purchased the royalty-free photo at right by Peter Mocsonoky from 123rf.com so you could have a better view of the crater, the center, and the isolated road leading to it from the freeway. .
We love Arizona and have done a number of features of various sites in Arizona. See our other Arizona stories. Meteor Crater is featured in this video: