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I hadn’t heard of the Meteor Crater in Arizona until we had hit the road on Route 66. But that’s the beauty of the Mother Road, there are so many friendly faces and fellow explorers, that sometimes you learn about things as you go. The Meteor Crater was one of those things you don’t really hear about, but it is an awesome thing to see, and definitely worthy of being considered a Route 66 Landmark.
Just outside of Winslow, Arizona (a city made famous from Take it Easy by the Eagles) is a ginormous Meteor Crater, estimated to have been created approximately 50,000 years ago. It is over 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and 550 feet deep. To give you some sort of scale for how massive this thing is, they place a 6 foot tall astronaut suit at the very bottom of the crater, and have a series of binoculars to help you find it.
Like most Route 66 tourist stops, there are billboards that lead you to this stop for miles ahead of time. They build it up, as if this might be the coolest thing you will ever see in your entire life. You drive 6.5 miles out of your way to get there, and then….
They Hit You.
You get hit with that admission price, you begin to question your decisions. “Maybe I should just turn back and forget about it,” but then your other self says, “you’ve already come this far. You might as well check it out.”
They set you up to say yes. They brought you all the way out here with their flashy signs after all. They even offer up a Subway for your troubles. But, as of 2019, admission to the Meteor Crater will cost you $18 per person (with discounts for children, seniors, and free admission for active military.)
Admission for Jason and I to see the giant dent in the ground cost us $32. It won’t get you out of the car for much more than an hour. There are videos and tours, but at the end of the day, you’re here for a crater that you look at and leave. So you will have to decide if that is worth it.
Is it worth it?
For us, absolutely! A break from driving, a chance at some fresh air, and a unique experience you won’t get anywhere else is absolutely worth the expense. It was cool! It’s one of those things you have to see to believe. And something you can’t quite understand the scope of until you’re standing on top of it all. It made for some awesome photos, a cool road trip story, and a chance to stretch our legs.
What You Need to Know
Location: Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow, Arizona.
Once you exit the interstate, there’s only one way to go. You will head down Meteor Crater road for 6.5 miles before reaching the visitor center. There is a radio station you can tune into while you drive that gives you information about visiting the site before you get to the lot. That way, when you arrive, you know exactly where you need to be.
You will not find any place closer to eat than the Subway that is inside the Visitor Center. We opted for convenience and grabbed a sandwich there. Other options include: Bojo’s Grill & Sports Pub, Relic Road Brewing Company, The Turquoise Room, or stop in at Twin Arrows Casino Resort for a few options at once.
If you are ending your day at the Meteor Crater, there are plenty of nearby lodging options available. If you’re visiting in an RV, there is a Meteor Crater RV Park right off the interstate exit. For campers, check out the Flagstaff KOA.
If you’re looking for a hotel, you will find no shortage of them. Between Winslow and Flagstaff, almost every hotel chain is available. My favorite options are: Days Inn Flagstaff, Holiday Inn Express Flagstaff, or the Sonesta ES Suites Flagstaff. No matter which you pick, all will come with a continental breakfast and a cozy bed to sleep in. All three offer some sort of fitness facility, but equipment varies at each location.
If you’re okay with heading a little further away, drive near Holbrook, Arizona. Here you can visit the Petrified Forest National Park, and you can stay at one of the three last remaining Wigwam Village Motels in the country, another iconic staple of Route 66.
Things to Do Nearby
Besides checking out the Meteor Crater, you might also be interested in:
- Hiking at Fatman’s Loop Trail (40 miles away)
- Downtown Flagstaff (44 miles away)
- Lowell Observatory (45 miles away)
- Wigwam Village Motel (58 miles away)
- Visit the Gift Shops in Williams, Arizona (77 miles away)
- Petrified Forest National Park (84 miles away)
- Grand Canyon National Park (112 miles away)