Skip to content

An Other Worldly Experience: Meteor Crater National Landmark (Winslow, AZ)

Meteor Crater National Landmark, also known as the Barringer Crater, sits in northern Arizona, a remote location a short distance outside of Winslow, AZ. Created by impact with a meteorite over 50,000 years ago, the crater sits today almost exactly as it was created and is known as the world’s best preserved meteor site.

The crater is easily accessible today and can be viewed from outdoor and indoor observation decks. If you have kids who are outer space fanatics, Meteor Crater National Landmark is the perfect destination for a fun and educational experience. The crater can easily be viewed from the visitor’s center and a museum and film about the creation of the crater help make the visit to the crater complete.

meteor crater national landmark, view from observation deck
  • Save
Meteor Crater.

About the Crater

Meteor Crater was created by an impact over 50,000 years ago with a iron-nickel meteorite. The meteorite measured 150 feet wide and weighed several thousand tons. The resultant crater was 750 ft. deep and almost a mile wide.

Prior to the meteor impact the area surrounding was made up of a forest that was home to various animal species. The impact occurred during the last ice age when Arizona’s landscape was quite different than it is today. When the meteor struck, the forest was leveled and the wildlife in the area killed.

Over time a lake formed at the bottom of the crater, sediment built up, and the crater was now at only 550 ft. deep. Further changes occurred with the ending of the ice age as Arizona became drier and similar to what it is today. The change of the landscape to a desert helped preserve the crater and allows it to be seen similar to what it was when the impact occurred.

  • Save
One of the signs depicting different areas of the crater.

Location

Meteor Crater is located about 25 miles outside of Winslow, AZ (about a half hour drive).

***Tip: the location is quite remote, so except to have no cell phone service***

Fees/Hours

Meteor Crater is open daily from 8am to 5pm.

Fees: Tickets are $22 for ages 12+ and $13 for ages 6-12. Discounts are available for pre-purchasing tickets online, but advanced tickets are not required for Meteor Crater National Landmark.

(Accurate at the time of this writing, be sure to check with Meteor Crater National Landmark before your visit)

Panoramic view of the Meteor Crater from the observation deck.
  • Save
Panoramic view of the Meteor Crater.

How to View the Crater

There are three different options for viewing the crater, each offering amazing views of the crater!

An indoor viewing area

Inside the Discovery Center & Museum you will find an indoor viewing area where you can get great views of the crater while escaping the heat (and the wind!) and enjoying the AC.

An outdoor observation deck/ Self Guide Tour

On our visit we opted to explore the outdoor observation decks. There are several steps going in both the upward and downward direction to give you different viewpoints for the crater, but nothing extensive that even the little legs in your group can’t handle. In fact, on our visit the kids loved running up and down the stairs!

The upper observation level has some telescopes for better viewing and one of the lower observation decks have multiple fixed telescopes that are labeled and point to specific details within the crater. Directly behind the visitor center you will also find an area with some benches for you to sit down and relax.

view of the Meteor Crater National Landmark visitor center from the upper observation level
  • Save
View of the visitor center from the upper observation level.

A Guided Rim Tour

Guided rim tours are available with a knowledgeable tour guide for those looking to learn more about the history of the crater. The best part about it: it is included with admission! Guided rim tours last 45-60 minutes. Because it takes you close to the edge of the crater this may not be the best option for young kids!

Impact! The Mystery of Meteor Crater

Impact! The Mystery of Meteor Crater is a short 15 minute film that gives you an overview of the history and creation of the meteor. It also reviews how meteors are formed and how they go off course, ultimately colliding with Earth. Admission to the film is included with admission to the crater, so you can’t go wrong! It is also a nice way to escape the Arizona heat for a little while and relax in the air conditioned theater.

Discovery Center and Space Museum

The Discovery Center and Space Museum features indoor exhibits that explore the history of the crater and space exploration. With its hands on exhibits, the discovery center ranked as one of the top attractions at Meteor Crater for the kids. My daughter enjoyed playing the video and playing with the microscope. One of the most fascinating exhibit was the small piece of the meteor that sits on display.

museum exhibit at Meteor Crater National Landmark
  • Save
An exhibit with the Discovery Center and Museum.

The Blasted Bistro & Gift Shop

The Blasted Bistro is a small café found without the visitors center featuring pizza, sandwiches, salads, soups, and a kids menu! The café also has a selection of desserts, including cookies, brownies, and ice cream. The pricing was reasonable as well, making it the perfect stop for a quick lunch during a busy day of exploring.

The gift shop is located beside the Blasted Bistro and has a great selection of souvenirs, as well as plenty of toys for the kiddos to choose from. Outside the gift shop you will find a small sitting area with a statue of an alien and an Apollo 13 Space Capsule.

  • Save
The Alien figure hanging out outside of the gift shop.

Is Meteor Crater Worth the Visit?

If visiting the area, we have to agree that the answer is yes! Although some may classify it as just another “hole in the ground,” it was fascinating to see and learn about the history of it. The kids also enjoyed visiting, and the lack of hiking required to reach the crater makes it a great family friendly attraction!

A trip to Meteor Crater can take anywhere from an hour to 3-4 hours to view the crater and explore the other exhibits, depending on what you want to do. I would recommend combining a visit to Meteor Crater with a visit to other nearby attractions, such as a visit to the small city of Winslow, AZ, Little Painted Desert, or nearby Flagstaff, AZ.

  • Save
Located with the Discovery Center, a piece of the meteorite that created the crater.

Pin It For Later:

You May Also Like:

  • Save
Spring Hunting in Manitou Springs, Colorado
  • Save
Road Trips for Families in North America
  • Save
Whiteface Mountain: A Guide for Families

Visit Meteor Crater National Landmark in northern Arizona and see the crater that was created on impact over 50,000 years ago
  • Save

10 Comments »

  1. When we visited Arizona I never even read about Meteor Crater. We are both space fanatics so we would definitely want to visit and learn more. It would be fun to do the guided rim tour. A fun stop on a return visit.

  2. I’ve never seen anything like this and find it totally fascinating! Nevertheless, to me, it sounds also a bit scary. For the kids, however, it must have been more thrilling than any movie?!

  3. I never heard of this place before. If I’m ever close by, I’ll definitely stop in for a visit. Fascinating!

  4. I am planning a family trip next summer to Utah National parks. I’m thinking about adding Meteor Crater to our list after reading this. So cool, fun and educational!

  5. Wow I’ve never seen anywhere like this but heard a lot about it. This would be perfect for my partner he is fascinated with space, physics and the planet as a general

  6. How did I never hear of this until now?! I am way into aliens and I’ve been to Arizona but totally missed this. I’d love to stop by here, even in photos I can get an idea of the scale of this crater. Thanks for sharing

  7. Yes, it was quite other-worldly when we visited too. I understand there are many more much bigger (12 mile diameter) impact craters on earth like the one in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico but this one is so accessible!

Leave a Reply

83 Shares
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap
%d bloggers like this: