We had passed Exit 233 on Interstate 40 west many times and negated the idea of turning off to see Meteor Crater… Perhaps our big RV can’t make it up the road; Perhaps there is nowhere to park it…It’s probably just a big hole! But we were certainly mistaken in all these aspects! We asked the personable owner, John Kelley, at the Holbrook KOA if the road to Meteor Crater is safe for rigs towing a car and his answer was a resounding YES…you must go there! So we did, and we are so glad. The road is excellent and there is plenty of parking for every kind of vehicle.
This Meteor Crater is the largest intact and best preserved of any meteor crater on earth. It is about a mile in diameter and 700 feet deep, a circular hole caused instantly by the impact of a meteor which was about 150 feet across and weighed several hundred tons. This meteor, a piece of an asteroid, crashed to earth around 50,000 years ago at a velocity of 26,000 miles per hour! The impact displaced 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone, throwing it into the air, melting and vaporizing iron and rock in an explosion equal to 20 million tons of TNT! The site is awe-inspiring.
The Meteor Crater and surrounding flat desert has been owned by the family of Daniel Moreau Barringer since the early 1900’s when he came there to mine the iron he was convinced lay in the form of the meteor beneath the crater floor. He spent 26 years searching for it but did not realize the iron meteor had itself been vaporized. He did find many oxidized fragments of the meteor, proving this was not the crater of an extinct volcano. In the mid-1900’s the Bar T Bar Ranch leased the surrounding lands for cattle grazing and formed the Meteor Crater Enterprises, Inc., which built the impressive, state-of-the-art Visitor Center.
The Center preserves the integrity of the site and has many different types of interactive explanatory activities for children and adults to understand what happened here. The film at the comfortable theater is excellent and everyone comes away from it with a good understanding. The films and pictures from other planets and outer space are amazing, and with each you gain more knowledge of our solar system and our Universe.
United States Apollo Astronauts trained here in the first two decades of our space exploration, and other astronauts have come here for more training periodically since then. This is the perfect place to test robots and Remote Operated Vehicles, which will traverse surfaces of the moon or other planets. It is also a good training ground for Astronauts to learn how to maneuver in their suits and how to use their surface testing equipment for taking rock specimen.
You can get a nice lunch or snack at the onsite Subway and buy many interesting souvenirs at the Gift Shop. Your whole family will be talking about this fascinating place for years to come.
If you are traveling in a recreation vehicle we highly recommend that you stay at the Holbrook Petrified Forest KOA Kampground about a half-hour from Meteor Crater. You will find excellent facilities, as you can always trust a KOA, and it is the nearest and best camping place nearby.