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Friday, January 16, 2009


BARRINGER CRATER Although it’s located the middle of nowhere, and it costs 15 bucks to see it, a trip to this natural wonder is well worth the travel time and expense. Best known as the backdrop for the dramatic final scenes in the 1984 movie Starman, (starring Jeff "his Dudeness" Bridges as a disturbingly believable extra terrestrial visitor) the experience of seeing this honest-to-goodness meteorite impact crater easily outshines Hollywood’s best special effects talent. The massive 4,000-foot-wide, 550-foot-deep wound in the high desert plains of Northern Arizona was created when an iron-nickel meteorite smashed into the earth roughly 50,000 years ago. Better known by the misnomer “Meteor Crater”, this natural wonder should be called Meteorite Crater. That’s because “meteors” burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, never reaching the ground while meteorites are extraterrestrial hunks of iron that survive the fall through earth’s atmosphere and hit terra firma at speeds in excess of 26,000 miles per hour just like the one that blasted out Barringer Crater. Yup--I learned all that cool stuff and much more by spending about 3 fascinating hours in the adjacent visitor center/geek emporium. Guilty. Guided one-mile walking tours are offered hourly through mid-afternoon and include informative talks on the colorful history, geology and paleontology of the crater. Tour leaders are knowledgeable, entertaining and will happily take a picture of you teetering over the crater’s edge at “picture rock”. FEATURES: world-famous impact crater, learning center, guided hikes LENGTH: roughly 1-mile round-trip RATING: easy but rocky (close-toed shoes are required, no sandals) ELEVATION: 5,700’ NOTE: Pets are not allowed. Please do not leave pets in parked cars as heat can be fatal. Driving distance from Phoenix: 195 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, travel 35 miles east on Interstate 40 (toward Winslow) to exit 233. Follow the signs to the crater. Hours: open year-round but hours change seasonally. Call ahead. Information: Meteor Crater Enterprises: (928) 289-5898 or


Unknown said...

I am interested in visiting from glendale, az to see the meteor crater. What is the drive like? I don't usually do a lot of driving and curious about the difficulties of the drive. Is it mountainous, one lane with sharp turns, or easy desert driving?

Mare said...

Ahmed, the drive is very easy. It's 100% paved and mostly flat. The only uphill is on I-17 between Black Canyon City and Camp Verde. Enjoy!