Saturday, October 25, 2008

31-08 Meteor Crater Arizona


Meteor Crater, Flagstaff AZ

Well I’ve been able to extend my stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park for two more weeks. One of the volunteers coming in has been delayed so I‘ll fill in for until they get here.

We had a pot luck dinner the other night in honor of those volunteers leaving at the end of the month, they have over 10 couples and a couple of us single volunteers here in the park. We of course had the pot luck at one of the large Ramada’s (you know that’s a covered picnic area). The sun set early and we all anticipated that it would cool off quickly.
But it was one of those perfect evenings. Not a chill in the air. Lots of good conversation about travel and our favorite places to camp and visit.

On my days off I took another ride up to Flagstaff, then east on hwy 40. Hwy 40 parallels parts of the original Route 66 which is so cool. When I get to the exit for hwy 40 it says, Los Angeles or Albuquerque. Odd to see that I’m that close to LA that the signs point to it.

But I’m heading east towards Albuquerque and the Meteor Crater. It’s privately owned and maintained. As I head east, the high desert goes from being dotted with cedar and Pinion Pines to dry desert with grasses that have dried and become a golden straw color. Flat would be a good description with hazy mountains ranges far off in the distance.

It’s a windy day, Rv’s are being pushed around by the wind, tumble weeds are on collision courses with our vehicles as I climb to an elevation of 6 and 7,000 ft. It’s cold. The highs for the day never reached above 56 degrees and I only had a sleeveless jacket with me. Burr. Now one must ask why a person would pay $15 to see a big hole in the ground. Well, it all boils down to curiosity. I’ve never seen a meteor crater and I just felt it was something I needed to see in life.

After paying, I climbed up the couple flights of steps to the museum which is on the edge of the crater. They have some really good displays and a short movie describing asteroids and meteors. Did you now there are meteor showers hitting our atmosphere all the time? They are usually so small that they burn up in the atmosphere before hitting land. I remember as a child seeing a shooting stars over a couple of evenings.

What makes this meteor crater important is that it was the first proven meteorite impact site and it’s the best preserved. And for being 50,000 years old that’s saying a lot. My own impressions were like most, seeing a meteor crater for the first time, awe inspiring. Inside the museum, I was able to touch the largest remaining piece of the meteorite, a solid piece of iron, a crater pocked piece of metal sitting simply at the entrance to the museum.

After seeing the movie and walking through the museum, I exited and walked around the building to the edge of the crater. Talk about a huge hole in the ground. Wow! Two of the viewing areas descended down over the edge of the crater and provided shelter from the cold wind blowing at surface level. The sun feeling warm on this cold day. I like many of the other visitors just stood looking from various vantage points trying to absorb what it must have been like at impact. Looking down into the crater which is 60 stories deep and 4,000 feet across.

For more info check out their web site at:

It may be just a big hole in the ground, but for me, it was exciting to see. It reminded me of the dynamic large universe we live in. The changes that were made to our planet when a large meteor hit. It’s now believed that dinosaurs and most plant life died after large meteors hit with devastating impact. Impact, about every 50,000 years… hmmmm, it’s been about 50,000 years since the last one?

Or did one hit Russia 100 years ago? And was it big enough to qualify as a 50,000 year event? Discover for yourself at:

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