Is a stop at the Meteor Crater in Arizona on your list of Route 66 attractions to see? It certainly was with our family this summer. As a kid, my parents used to drive Route 66 from southern California to Arizona quite regularly for trips to the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and other natural attractions. For some weird reason, they never took the time to see the Meteor Crater.
The Meteor Crater is the world’s best preserved impact crater and measures a whopping one mile across and 550 feet deep. I finally got to see it this summer and was really glad that we took the time. Here’s what you can expect to see at this very unusual tourist attraction.
What there is to see
The crater doesn’t just sit out there all by itself. The site also has a large Visitor’s Center that borders the north edge of the crater full of interesting things to see. Before venturing out onto the outdoor observation trails, the guides recommend that you duck into the movie theater for a quick 10 minute clip of how the impact might have looked. Other attractions in the Visitor Center include a small science discovery museum, a very large gift shop, and a Subway sandwich shop for those who forgot to pack their lunch.
Walking around the meteor
As far as walking around the meteor crater, visitors have a couple of options. Towards the east side of Visitor’s Center are several observation centers at different levels. The crater can also be viewed from indoors or from benches from an observation deck in the back of the Center. On the west side is a paved rim trail where visitors can take a guided tour during regularly scheduled hours.
This isn’t the type of attraction where you can drive up to the edge with your car and peer over the edge. Visitors should be prepared for lots of walking and stair climbing by wearing sturdy shoes and comfortable walking clothes. There’s also a bit of a stiff breeze, especially on the lower observation decks which means that hats should fit securely (or tie under the chin) to avoid the risk of losing them.
We spent nearly 90 minutes at the Meteor Crater which was all the time it took to see the movie, walk out to all 3 observation platforms, plus spend a bit of time in the gift shop. For families on a tight schedule, seeing this attraction is quite doable in 45 minutes.
Admission prices and times
Tickets for the Meteor Crater in Arizona cost $16 per adult, $8 for juniors, and free for kids 5 and under. During the summer, this attraction is open from 7am to 7pm. The rest of the year, the hours are from 8am – 5pm.
The Meteor Crater can be reached by taking Exit 233 of I-40, then 6 miles south on a paved road. For more information about this unusual natural attraction, be sure to visit their website at Meteor Crater.com
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