Visit a Meteor Crater in the Arizona Desert

If you fly in an airplane over Winslow, Arizona and look out the window, you will spot a single large moon-like crater in the desert. The crater was caused by a sizable meteorite that smashed into planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago—when mammoths and mastodons were as plentiful as coyotes and deer. Arizona’s arid climate has ensured that the Meteor Crater is one of the best preserved meteor impact sites in the world.

The Meteor Crater is classified as a National Natural Landmark, but it is located on private land that is owned by the Barringer Crater Company. The Barringer Crater Company is named after mining engineer Daniel Barringer who was the first person to suggest that the giant crater in the Arizona desert was caused by a meteorite from space.

The Barringer Crater Company currently operates several indoor and outdoor viewing stations where visitors can look at the Meteor Crater from different vantage points. If Arizona’s searing summer heat is too much for you, there are numerous air-conditioned Meteor Crater viewing platforms where you can get a striking view of the crater without overheating.

During the temperate months—or, even at the height of summer if you have a high heat tolerance—you can take a 40-minute guided tour where you can hike around the Meteor Crater’s rim and learn about the natural history of the region. The guided rim tour even gives you the opportunity to glimpse the wreckage of a small plane that crashed while surveying the Meteor Crater in 1964.

The adjacent Discovery Center and Space Museum features a model of the lunar lander, an exhibit about the craters of the moon, and several rocks that have been recovered from the Meteor Crater. If you love outer space, geology, and the striking beauty of the Arizona desert—a trip to the Meteor Crater is an absolute must.

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