Meteor Crater

Standard

Crater Sign

I’d heard about Meteor Crater on an episode of the Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase (http://betty.libsyn.com/) podcast. In the episode, a pilot tells the story of flying over the gigantic crater near Winslow, AZ. Supposedly, a stewardess saw the crater from high up in the airplane and marveled at the fact that the meteor landed right at the end of a road.

I made a mental note of the location of the crater and told myself I’d visit if I were ever nearby.

In the Fall of 2015, I found myself passing through the area as I traveled from Las Vegas to New Mexico. I’d stopped in Winslow to take some photos of the Standin’ on the Corner Park to update my blog post about the town (http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/04/28/winslow-arizona/), but I hadn’t stayed there long.

I was driving east on Interstate 40 when I saw one of those brown signs that alert drivers to state parks and outdoor activities. I think this one said “natural attraction,” and probably something to let me know Meteor Crater was the attraction in question. I was not traveling under a deadline, so I decided to stop and see the sights.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater,

Meteor Crater is a meteoriteimpact crater approximately 37 miles (60 km) east of Flagstaff and 18 miles (29 km) west of Winslow in the northern Arizona desert…Because the United States Board on Geographic Names commonly recognizes names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, the feature acquired the name of “Meteor Crater” from the nearby post office named Meteor.[2] The site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorite.[3] Scientists refer to the crater as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer, who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact.[4] The crater is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company, which proclaims it to be the “best preserved meteorite crater on Earth”.[5][6]

Despite its importance as a geological site, the crater is not protected as a national monument, a status that would require federal ownership. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in November 1967.[7]

Meteor Crater lies at an elevation of about 1,740 m (5,710 ft) above sea level. It is about 1,200 m (3,900 ft) in diameter, some 170 m deep (570 ft), and is surrounded by a rim that rises 45 m (148 ft) above the surrounding plains. The center of the crater is filled with 210–240 m (690–790 ft) of rubble lying above crater bedrock.[1] One of the interesting features of the crater is its squared-off outline, believed to be caused by existing regional jointing (cracks) in the strata at the impact site.[8]

After exiting I-40 (at exit 233, according to http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/13081), I drove a few miles through the desert. As I drove, I saw several signs, each with a clever or funny message, like the one that opens this post. I became more excited as I drew closer to the attraction.

Because I’d done no research on the crater, I had no idea the attraction is privately owned. According to http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/13081,

The Barringer family still owns the Crater, and has made a tidier profit as a tourist attraction than Daniel ever would have made from the meteorite.[Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer from Philadelphia, bought the crater in 1903 and spent 20+ years looking for the meteorite that made it.]

The Crater is such a big natural wonder that some people mistakenly believe it’s owned by the government, and are sometimes unhappy to discover that they have to pay retail price to see it. But, you know, the Barringers have sunk a lot of cash into this place. They built a six-mile-long paved road between it and the interstate, and a nice visitor’s center and museum, and even an elevator to take you to the rim if you don’t want to climb the stairs.

I’d figured there would be a price for admission, even if the attraction were owned by the government, and I was ready to pay it. I’m fully aware that many (most?) cool things to see in the U.S. have some sort of price tag attached. So I budgeted $10 to see the Meteor Crater. I don’t typically spend more than $5 on an activity, but I decided I’d splurge to see the crater.

I tucked a ten-dollar bill in my small travel purse, along with my camera and my lip balm, and walked into the visitors center. I got in line to pay my entrance fee, and looked up at the board listing admission prices. WHAT? $18 for adult admission? (The Meteor Crater website [http://meteorcrater.com/contact-us/] lists other admission fees as follows:  Seniors (age 60 and older) $16.00; Juniors (age 6-17) $9.00; Non-Active Duty U.S Military/Veterans (with I.D.) $9.00; U.S. Military Youth (age 6-17) $5.00; Active U.S. Military (with I.D.) FREE.) Upon seeing I was expected to fork over $18 to see the crater, I turned right around and left. $18 was simply more than I could justify spending.

I get it. As the Roadside America.com article quoted above says, money’s been sunk into the place, paved road, visitor’s center and museum, elevator, etc., etc. However, $18 just seemed more than it was worth for the time I was going to spend there and the photos I was going to take and the information I was going to acquire.

I asked one of my Arizona friends if she’d ever been there. She said no. She said she’d waited in the car while her husband and daughter went in. When I asked her husband if it had been worth the $18 admission fee (plus the $9 he’d have paid for his daughter to get in), he had a hard time believing he would have paid that much to see the crater. He kept insisting they must have had a coupon. (Or maybe he’d just wanted to please his daughter and had swallowed hard and handed over the $27.)

In any case, while I would have liked to have seen the crater and learned more about it, I still don’t think the visit would have been worth the price of admission.

I took the photo at the top of this post.

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist. Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it. I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk. This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

10 Responses »

    • I know, right?! $18 is a lot!

      Looking at the crater on Google Earth is a good idea. Thanks for suggesting that, Dave.

      Thanks for reading!

  1. Ha,ha, we did the same thing Blaize! Drove all the way out there, saw the ridiculous admission price and left. I did get a picture of the crater edge from a distance though.

    • Karen, I’m glad I’m not the only one who left after seeing the high price of admission. I thought about stopping on the road and trying to get some photos and now I wish I had, but at that point, I was ready to get to my stopping point for the night and get some rest.

      Thanks for reading and telling us of your experience at Meteor Crater.

  2. I have to agree with you that it is too much to get in there. I checked it out a few years ago, don’t remember what I paid but it was more than it should of been. It was cool to check out but I would not do again.

    Tina

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Tina.

      I feel a bit vindicated when I hear others say they didn’t think the attraction was worth the admission price.

  3. I know a kid who is really hard to impress, and he traveled w/ a bunch of other children on a two week trip in the 4 Corners area. He said the most impressive thing they saw was Meteor Crater! I have never been there, but if this kid was impressed by something, then maybe it would be worth the admission cost??? $18 is really on the high end though. I bet many people fork it over b/c they have gone all the way out there. Can you imagine paying for a whole family to see it? Ouch.

    • I’m glad the kid you know enjoyed Meteor Crater. I wonder if he would have liked it as much if he’d have had to pay for it in cash right out of his own pocket. Maybe someday I will live it up and fork out the $18 to see it. And no, I can’t imagine paying for the whole family to see it. (My one friend sat out in the car while her husband and kid went in.) I don’t know how people afford to take a bunch of kids on vacation.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Midge.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a reply