Meteor Crater & Barringer Space Museum
Massive meteorite hole just off Historic Route 66? Yes, Please!
50,000 years ago Earth got shot! Right in the middle of the Arizona desert. Scorching in at 26,000 miles per hour, a 150 foot iron-nickel projectile struck with the force of 20 million tons of TNT. Yep, it happened. Following the explosion this meteor left a massive hole for us to gawk at. So, come visit and be inspired by the fact that you came 50,000 years too late for the initial meteor shower which would have ended with the whole lot of us seeing some serious stars.
The result of this meteorite collision was a colossal crater. In fact, the initial crater was around 700 feet deep and more than 4,000 feet across. Today the depth of the crater stands at 550 feet deep. That is to say it is deep enough for the top of the Washington Monument to be at eye if you were standing on the rim. Meteor Crater National Landmark is widely considered the best-preserved meteor impact site on planet Earth.
At a mere 6 miles off of Historic Route 66, this is a must-see stop on your Arizona road trip. Be prepared to spend some time exploring. Museums, exhibits, and films help you get educated on everything from the meteor itself, to the history of using it as training grounds for Apollo astronauts. Most importantly, there is a piece of the meteor on display. Therefore, the kids can even say they got to touch a real meteor. Bet their friends at school haven’t done that.
Hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm (Open until 12:00pm on Thanksgiving & Closed Christmas Day)
Tickets: can be purchased online or on-site; group discounts available
Pets: not allowed inside, but a generous Pet Ramada is available outside the Administration area.
Winslow – 25 miles
Flagstaff – 40 miles
Petrified Forest National Park – 80 miles
Just a short drive Northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona lies a rugged land atop the vast Colorado Plateau. Here you can find what remains of an ancient Puebloan people. Wupatki National Monument protects numerous ancient dwellings of peoples who have long since moved on. Perhaps the main highlight of the Wupatki National Monument is the self-guided tour of the Wupatki Pueblo. As the largest dwelling in the region, it provides a great example of what life might have been like for someone living in such a village.
Be sure to check out the visitor center before you head out on your self-guided tour…and don’t miss out on the blowhole and ball court not too far from the main pueblo structure.
Wupatki National Monument houses several other archeological sites which include: Lomaki Pueblo, Citadel and Nalakihu pueblos, and Wukoki Pueblo. Be sure to spend some time enjoying the nuances of these unique structures. And, as always, visit with care to ensure future visitors are able to equally enjoy these fragile resources.
Visitor Center: open daily (except Dec 25th); specific hours vary by season
Trails are open during daylight hours
Fees: *Please note Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments are connected by a 35-mile loop road and both monuments are covered by one fee.
- Private Vehicle: $25 for 7-days
- Bicyclist/Pedestrian: $15 for 7-days
- Motorcycle: $20 for 7-days
Other accommodations: No lodging, gas stations, or restaurants are located in either of the monuments. The closest major services are located in Flagstaff.
Walnut Canyon National Monument is home to some of the most incredible cliff dwellings you’ll ever see.
There are two different routes you can take to soak in the Walnut Canyon experience. For those willing and able to tackle a 1-mile round trip hike, you’ll get up close and personal to these ancient dwellings and see with your own eyes the ingenuity of the ancient inhabitants. You’ll have the chance to not only walk right next to and in the dwellings, but you’ll be able to look across the canyon and see additional dwellings built within the cliff. It’s a remarkable sight that you won’t want to miss.
As a word of caution, be sure to go prepared. There are lots of stairs and it does get hot in the summer months so be sure to pack some water and a snack. The ancient inhabitants didn’t have the luxury of fruit snacks and a Camelbak but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of those luxuries.
If you’re not able to go on a mile hike or do lots of stairs, don’t worry at all. The Rim Trail will still provide a great experience with views of a pinion pine forest, partially rebuilt pithouse, and ancient pueblos. This 0.7 round-trip stroll is worth every minute of your time. The scenic overlooks provide views of a gorgeous canyon as well as the ancient cliff dwellings.
Additional trip-planning information:
Hours of operation- 9 AM- 4:30 PM (check nps.gov for holiday hours of operation)
Entrance Fee- $15 per person
Pets- Leashed pets are allowed on the Rim trail but not allowed in the visitors center or the Island trail. Please clean up after your pets.
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