As a youth I was very much in space exploration and found anything related to space fascinating. On a few different family camping trips we stopped off at Meteor Crater, AZ. Which is a privately owned but is set up much like a state park might be. I mostly remember walking around the rim of the crater and exploring some of the other trails with the park. One day, I hope to go back but like most things in the southwest its probably to hot during the summer.
Flat, sandy and dry grasslands make up the area to the east of Flagstaff, between the tree-covered hills of the Mogollon Rim and the pale colors of the Painted Desert is one major natural attraction named the Meteor Crater. This massive bowl-like depression in the ground which is three-quarters of a mile in diameter and 550 feet deep was created around 50,000 years ago by meteoric impact. Meteor crater is quite close to Interstate 40 and now attracts many visitors each year. The crater has been privately owned by the same family since investigations began in 1902 by Daniel M Barringer. The observation center that is on the crater’s rim has a movie theater to educate you about meteoric impacts, a restaurant and a gift shop.
The inside of Meteor Crater is usually first seen from viewing within the visitor center. The visitor center has several areas that allow you to study the distant rock walls in more detail with telescopes. Outside of the visitor center, there are other viewing areas that are connected by short walkways and some steps. There is one trail which goes one-third of a mile around the rim and it can be taken as part of a guided tour. Meteor Crater is a large natural wonder, that some people assume is owned by the government. Meteor Crater is not owned by the government, but by the Barringer family.
The crater was discovered in the late 1890s by Grove Gilbert and studies by him and some others including Daniel Barringer proved that this crater was formed by the impact of a large metallic meteor. There are about 150 such craters on earth that have been identified as meteoric impact in origin. The main evidence that they found that indicated that this it was a meteoric impact strike were nickel-iron rock fragments that were found in the center and scattered for several miles around the area. These nickel iron fragments are not a substance which is naturally found in this location. The largest surviving fragment of the meteor, which is view-able in the visitor center, weighs three-quarters of a ton. Scientists theorize that the size of the original meteor that struck the earth was 150 feet in diameter and weighed in around 300,000 tons. When this huge meteor crashed into the desert in what is now Arizona, the collision resulted in with the same force as a 20 megaton bomb and sprayed molten rock for miles around the crater.
Meteor Crater lies 6 miles south of 1-40 between Flagstaff and Winslow in northern Arizona; the turnoff from 1-40, 34 miles east of Flagstaff, is well marked by signs along the highway. Access to the crater is by a paved road that leads directly to a visitor center and museum on the rim of the crater.
There are 71 RV sites and 3 tent sites. 26 of the sites have full hook up with water/electric & sewer and 45 sites have electric and water. These facilities and services are available at the park: WIFI, Coin-op Laundry, Convenience Store/Gift Shop, Restrooms, Hot Showers, Dump Station, Gasoline/Diesel, Handicap Facilities, RV Storage/RV Supplies, Morning Paper Available.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Winslow,+AZ,+USA there are 15 free campsites within 50 miles of Winslow, Arizona.
—-Hiking & Mountain biking—-
There is a section of old US 66 that you can hike or bike in this area if you are prepared for desert-like conditions during the day. The old US 66 crosses just to the south of the Meteor Crater RV park and runs for a little way in either direction before being lost into what turned into I-40. Otherwise, you’ll need to travel about 40 miles to the west towards Flagstaff, Arizona where the climate turns more hospitable and there are more trails to hike and bike.
—-Things to do—-
In addition to visiting Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon is less than an hour drive from Flagstaff, but be sure to check out the Lowell Observatory for a close-up look at the universe and Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course to test your limits on the obstacles and zip-lines! Three National Monuments – Sunset Crater, Walnut Canyon, and Wupatki – are within a half-hour drive (of Flagstaff) and tell the stories of the ancestral Puebloan people who settled near Flagstaff.