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Get The Hole Story At Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona

Meteor Crater, day trip from Sedona, Arizona.

The open stretch of high desert between Flagstaff and Winslow may seem like the most uneventful place on earth, but 50,000 years ago, it was the site of an event of cosmic proportions. That's when a meteorite weighing around 300,000 tons ripped through Earth's atmosphere in a fiery streak and slammed into the Coconino plateau at about 15 kilometers per second, where it made, shall we say, a lasting impression.

Today Meteor Crater is one of the best-preserved and therefore most-studied impact craters on earth. Most of what we know about identifying and analyzing impact craters we learned from this gaping hole, 4,000 feet wide and 550 feet deep in the desert floor. Since the Barringer family secured the site for research and education in the 1950s, meteor crater has hosted scientists of all disciplines and even Apollo astronauts to learn about what happens when a planet gets in the way of something so huge, traveling so fast.

The Interactive Learning Center located on the site features two dozen multimedia exhibits for all age ranges exploring the history, science and lore around this and other meteor impacts. When the weather cooperates, guests can take a guided tour about 1/3 of the way around the crater's rim. There are also several spots in the Visitor Center to simply take in the amazing view and try to imagine the forces at work in its creation.

The Meteor Crater Visitor Center is open every day from Christmas, with varying winter and summer hours. Take exit 233 off Interstate 40, about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, and follow the signs to the Visitor Center.

For more information call 800-289-5898 or visit www.meteorcrater.com.

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