En route from Petrified Forest National Park to the Grand Canyon, we made an unplanned stop at Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. When signs reading Site of the World’s Largest Crater Impact, Straight Ahead!! pop up, one must stop to check it out, right? At the very least, these traffic signs were to make for terrific Instax material (which they did, but are at the present moment making way through a modernized filing system known on this adventure as "Ziplock bag sorting".)
Meteor Crater is an impact site measuring nearly 600 feet deep and more than one mile across -- the result of an asteroid crashing into Earth 50,000 years ago. Space.com says that while the impact to Earth was not as fast and hard as astronomers once believed, the meteor still came screaming in 10 times faster than a rifle bullet. In any event, the speed in which the impact came in is no match for its visually impressive size. From the viewing areas (there are two that we know of) telescopes look out onto the crater floor where real life representations of astronauts, football fields, and other size comparisons sit to offer a perspective of scale. They all look like ants, even when magnified.
It was 20 bucks USD per person to get into the museum which leads to the crater. Always on a schedule and observing of budget, we weighed whether or not this expense would be worth it. We wanted to reach Grand Canyon well before sunset, which left us with only a little bit of time to observe Meteor Crater. All things considered, it was, in our opinion, best to be considered as a short stop between point A and B and we had no fuss moving along in about an hour. This categorization shouldn't take away from the wonder of seeing a massive impact site like this, and the thoughts it provokes made for lively conversation on the way to our next park. To imagine an asteroid weighing several hundreds of thousands of tons and traveling at 26,000 miles toward the surface of the Earth is a mind-bender (and a little bit scary.)
It's worth noting that Meteor Crater was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1967 and is family owned which is why it doesn't have the Federal distinction as a National Monument.