Over the past year and a half, Outbound Adventurer has had a number of influences, but none has been quite so consistent, or quite so motivating, as that of Marie Parks of Ardent Camper. Over the years she’s stepped into a variety of roles, from hiking buddy to cheerleader to geeky enthusiast.
As a full-time RVer trekking across the United States, she has an incredible passion for the great outdoors and never says no to a new adventure. We’re excited to share one of her nerdy tales from the road and hope you enjoy learning all about Meteor Crater in Arizona!
This was not my first crater.
That honor goes to the Civil War battlefield in Petersburg, Virginia. There, Union soldiers exploded a mine under the Confederate troops, creating a devastating gap in their line. The hole in the ground can still be seen today.
The second was at Nicaragua’s Masaya Volcano National Park. There, we peered into the maw of Masaya, itself, an active volcano that constantly spews sulfuric fumes so noxious visitors can only stay a few minutes.
Coming In for Landing
Then, as you approach Meteor Crater, what looks like a small mountain rises in front of you.
A Diverse History
We reached the visitor center and were greeted by a test capsule used by NASA’s Apollo crews. The astronauts trained here because it was deemed relatively similar to the moon’s cratered surface.
Once inside, we watched a brief film about the meteor, how it formed the crater, and the scientific importance of the site.
Not only is Arizona’s Meteor Crater the best preserved crater of its type in the world, but it’s where scientists first verified the existence of craters caused by meteors, as opposed to volcanoes or other forces. Like Union gunpowder.
Even if you don’t take a guided tour (included in admission), there is a self-guided tour with three observation decks outfitted with telescopes.
Only from atop of its rim can the crater’s scale start to be appreciated.
Meteor Crater was created 50,000 years ago (that’s in the time of the woolly mammoths) by a meteor 160 feet across zipping towards the ground at somewhere between 28,000 and 45,000 miles per hour. But, I mean, really, what’s the difference at that speed?
Meteor Crater is 570 feet deep and more than 7/10ths of a mile across. In comparison, the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall.
Walking around its circumference (2.4 miles) is almost the equivalent of walking around the campus of my alma mater, Rice University.
In the base of the crater, you could fit 20 football fields, and its sloping walls could accommodate 2 million cheering fans.
It’s almost impossible to convey this digitally, but here are some photos that might help.
This is a view of the crater from the rim.
Look for a patch of white in the floor of the crater.
This area is a sectioned-off old mine shaft used to dig for the meteorite. Turns out most of the meteorite was vaporized in the impact, so there wasn’t much to find.
The next shot is zoomed in on the mine shaft.
See a bit of color in the right corner of the fence around the mine shaft?
Look through a telescope, and this is what you see.
The flag is 3’x5′, and the astronaut is 6′ tall.
For another idea of scale, here’s the label on another telescope.
Even More to Discover
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