Visit the most famous, best-preserved meteorite crater on Earth here in northern Arizona. Fifty thousand years ago before any human set foot in the region, a meteor traveling 40,000 miles per hour smashed into the ground, releasing energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT, and leaving a giant hole that you can still see today—although you can no longer walk inside the crater itself, as it is a living laboratory for several areas of scientific study. Meteor Crater is nearly a mile across, almost 2.5 miles around and deeper than the height of a 60-story building. Because the terrain is similar to the moon, Meteor Crater was an official training site for Apollo astronauts. With more than 200,000 visitors every year, Meteor Crater is one of the most popular vacation stops in the Southwest. To make the most of your visit, take the guided tour out to the crater’s rim. Be sure to bring water and wear sunscreen, as there’s no shade out on the rim. Closed-toed shoes are required to make the tour’s short hike. During summer, go early in the morning or in the evening when it isn’t as hot. It can easily be 80 degrees in Flagstaff but 95 degrees at the crater. Meteor Crater, about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, is open daily, except Christmas.
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