Meteor Crater is more than just a huge crater. It’s a physical record of an ancient collision by a massive meteor, and it’s now a popular tourist attraction in Arizona.
Dating back to about 50,000 years ago, Meteor Crater was blasted out of the surrounding sandstone, and the dry Arizona climate has maintained it near to impact-fresh ever since. Even when you’re looking at it in person, the scope and enormity of Meteor Crater in the high desert near Flagstaff is nearly amazing. Standing on the crater’s edge, you can see stones the size of houses across the crater.
There are just a handful of undamaged craters on the planet, and Meteor Crater is one of them. For those curious about such spectacle, you may be wondering if you can see Meteor Crater without paying. Let us find out.
Can You See Meteor Crater without Paying?
No, the crater is not accessible for free viewing. Unless you drive via the parking lot and pay when you arrive, the area is blocked off. Besides, the Visitor Center is more educational than the crater itself and it is not possible to hike down into or around the crater.
Who Owns Meteor Crater?
The meteor crater is owned by Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer from Philadelphia. In 1903, he purchased the Crater, believing it to be the result of a massive meteorite. He also thought he’d be wealthy if he could uncover the meteorite buried beneath the crater. While he was correct about the Crater, there was no meteorite. He drilled a 1,400-foot-deep hole but discovered nothing, and when he ran out of money in 1929, he died.
However, his descendants had it better than he did and till today, the Crater is still owned by the Barringer family. Meteor Crater has been made into a tourist attraction and has made a much better profit than Daniel would have gained from the meteorite.
Because the Crater is such a large natural wonder, some tourists incorrectly believe it belongs to the government and are disappointed when they learn that they must pay retail price to see it.
Is Meteor Crater Worth It?
Yes, it is a nice place to take a break and relax. It’s one of those things that must be seen to be believed, and it’s something you can’t fully comprehend until you’re standing on top of it. Between it and the interstate, the Barringers erected a six-mile-long paved road, a lovely visitor’s center, and museum, and even an elevator to take you to the rim if you don’t want to hike the stairs.
The modest museum, like everything else, is overshadowed by the crater, but it does have some charming features. A photo op allows you to appear to be standing on the Crater’s floor, which is impossible to do in real life. There’s a display of the largest shard of Meteor Crater meteorite to survive, a comparatively modest 1,400-pound blob, and an Apollo test capsule lies outside as another photo op — the moon astronauts trained here. The nearby souvenir shop sells “Crater Dust” for ten dollars a baggie and includes a magnet so that anyone interested in mining can extract the space rock particles.
Some people don’t think it was worth the trip, especially because of the fee and because they couldn’t enter the crater itself. So, while there are lots of fun things to do, it all depends on self-interest.
Do You Have to Pay to See Meteor Crater?
Yes, you have to pay to see the meteor crater. Adults pay $22, seniors $20, children $13, and children under 5 are free. You can also pay family package if there are more than 5 people in a group with discounts available.
How Long Should You Spend at Meteor Crater?
Set aside at least 3 hours if you truly want to make it worthwhile. There is an informative film, a very nice guided tour/hike around the rim, viewing decks, displays in the building, and the actual building itself is fascinating and worth a look around. If you’re only going to hurry through it, don’t bother. Take your time to appreciate it. After all, you’ve probably heard about it your entire life.
Even though it is only a giant hole in the ground at the end of the day, this location is intriguing because it allows your imagination to run wild.
So, can you see Meteor Crater without paying? No, you can’t as it is owned by individuals who have invested a lot into it for years. Also, the rim of Meteor Crater is not for the faint of heart, with all of the stairs and changing elevations, therefore, people who are afraid of heights should avoid it at all cost. However, for those who are looking for both thrills and natural wonders, or are interested in geology and astronomy, Meteor Crater is the place to visit.
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