Our first stop on Route 66 was to visit Meteor Crater. In this part of the state, the old Route 66 is gone and replaced by I-40 but there are still some great attractions to see along the way.
Meteor Crater was created when a giant meteor traveling 26,000 miles per hour crashed into the Earth and left a 550 foot deep crater.
You just can't get a picture of the whole crater from the visitor area but here is a panoramic picture. You can click on the picture to expand it larger.
Meteor Crater is about a mile in diameter and it is the best preserved meteor impact in the world.
Visitors are not allowed to walk around the edge of the crater or go all the way down into it. But there are several platforms that you can go down to view the crater more closely. There is one at the top with a big telescope that you can move around to look into the crater. There is also this platform that has several stationary telescopes that have labels on them to explain what you are looking at.
Here is a view through one of these telescopes looking down at the center of the crater at a 6 foot tall figure of an astronaut. He looks so small even through the telescope!
It is just so hard to get a perspective of how wide and deep this crater really is. For example, this big rock on the rim of the crater that doesn't look very big and impressive is actually the size of a house but it is so far away that it looks small.
This Holsinger meteorite is the largest fragment of the 150 foot meteor that created Meteor Crater.
The Visitor Center offers a movie called "Impact: The Mystery of Meteor Crater" and about 20 interactive educational stations to help explain geology and meteors. Here Nicholas is looking at magnified views of the surface of three different rocks showing the affect of being shocked by a meteor impact.
Rachel experimented with a meteor simulator that showed her how changing the features of a meteor such as velocity and diameter could change the effects at impact.
Of course we had to visit the gift shop. Rachel and I have a collection of tokens from the National Parks and National Monuments so we had to get a token for Meteor Crater. But there are some beautiful rock specimens for sale in the shop plus all of the usual tourist souvenirs. Nicholas spent some time building a tower of magnets. He has always loved working with magnets.
Meteor Crater is located on Interstate 40 at Exit 233 near Winslow, AZ. It is open from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm but during the summer through Labor Day they are open from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm. Adults $18.00, Kids age 6-17 are $9.00. For more information, please call them at 800-289-5898.
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