About 50,000 years ago a meteor estimated to be about 150 feet in diameter slammed into the earth about 20 miles west of modern day Winslow, Arizona. The depression is about 0.75 miles in diameter and 550 feet deep. It is one of the better examples of a meteor crater on the planet; but the area is privately owned, and the entry charge ($10 per adult when I went there) is a little steep. They also have a space capsule on site. It has a small museum and a gift shop to part you from more of your money.
Thirty five miles east of Flagstaff and 25 miles west of Winslow lies one of the most amazing things in Arizona --- a real honest-to-goodness 50,000 year old perfect meteor crater (it hurtled to the earth at 40,000 miles per hour)! Everything was wiped out when it hit and you can still feel the devastation...
The first time I visited this place, it was already closed at about 630 PM when we went. So, make sure you check the hours when it is open.
Meteor Crater Visitor Center is open daily. Visitation hours are as follows:
Memorial Day to September 15th 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Rest of the year 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Thanksgiving Day open from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Closed Christmas Day
Go and watch the film first which educates on meteor collisions, and then see the actual crater itself. The Meteor Crater is over 4,000 feet across, and 550 feet deep, and there are observation telescopes that allow you a close up look at points of interest in the crater. Daily guided rim tours allow those with proper hiking shoes to venture about 1/3 mile around the crater rim. The tours leave hourly from 9:15 a.m. until 2:15 p.m., and last about 1 hour, weather permitting.
Then go to the museum where they have actual meteor specimens! A 1,406 pound meteorite fragment, the largest ever found in the area, is on display for visitors to view and touch. And there even miniscule meteor diamonds on display....Then the gift shop offers a lot of stuff and souvenirs for you to bring home.
I always bring friends here and they always are in awe, and I like seeing the expressions on their faces when they first see it for the first time...a view to behold! Scary if another meteor this size impacts a major city in the future...
Eagles fans (and anyone else) can stand on a corner in Winslow Arizona with a mural of a girl in a flatbed Ford. The town achieved international fame from the Eagles song "Take it Easy" which came out in 1972 and included the lines; "standin on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. It's such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin down to take a look at me. This corner is on 2nd and Kinsley.
This is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site located off I-40 in Northern Arizona near Winslow. Meteor Crater is the breath-taking result of a collision between a piece of an asteroid traveling at 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. There is a wonderful visitor center, with a huge gift store, subway restaurant, Interactive Discovery Center, awesome film, a fabulous tour of the outside rim and an awesome outside walkways to view the crater.
1851: Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves was the first to document finding petrified wood in this region.
1853: Lieutenant Amiel Whipple, during a government expedition to find a route for the railroad along the 35th Parallel, was the first to document petrified wood that would one day be included within Petrified Forest National Park. His expedition artist/naturalist, Balduin Möllhausen, was also the first to publish an account of the expedition with illustrations of the petrified wood.
1895: Congress turns down a bill to create a national park at Petrified Forest.
1900: The Department of the Interior publishes the Report on the Petrified Forests of Arizona by paleobotanist Lester F. Ward with his recommendations to protect the area.
1904-05: conservationist John Muir explores the Petrified Forest.
December 8, 1906: Petrified Forest National Monument was created by President Theodore Roosevelt stating that, …the mineralized remains of Mesozoic forests…are of the greatest scientific interest and value and it appears that the public good would be promoted by reserving these deposits of fossilized wood as a National monument with as much land as may be necessary for the proper protection thereof.
August 25, 1916: The National Park Service was created by the Organic Act approved by Congress and signed by President Woodrow Wilson. This federal bureau within the Department of the Interior was now responsible for protecting the 40 national parks and monuments then in existence and those yet to be established. The purpose of the service was to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
1924: Herbert Lore registered Painted Desert Inn as his business and claimed property under the Homestead Act. The inn was quickly nicknamed “Stone Tree House” due to the petrified wood used in its construction.
1931-1942: The Civilian Conservation Corps arrived in Petrified Forest National Monument and completed several construction projects over the next few years, including Rainbow Forest Museum, park residences, bridges, roads, trails, Agate House and Puerco Pueblo partial reconstructions, and Painted Desert Inn.
September 23, 1932: Over 53,000 acres was added to Petrified Forest National Monument. This not only increased the number and kinds of natural and cultural resources, it also added the scenic value of the Painted Desert vistas as a resource to be protected. This ultimately helped to push legislation through to upgrade the national monument to national park status. http://www.nps.gov/pefo/planyourvisit/brief-administrative-history.htm
The town of Winslow had these beams moved here from Ground Zero. They were part of the twin towers destroyed on September 11, 2001. The town of Winslow erected this monument as a memorial to those who were killed on that day and all others who have given their lives in defense of freedom.
The Homolovi Ruins State Park houses the ruins of a 14th Century settlement of the Hisat'sinom (better known as the Anasazi) located in the high grassland along the Little Colorado River. These people paused in their migrations to till the rich flood plain and sandy slopes before continuing north to join people already living on the mesas, people who are today known as the Hopi. Homolovi is Hopi for “place of the little hills”. your first stop should be the Visitor's Center where you can pay the entrance fee ($5 per vehicle), pick up some informative brochures, buy souvenirs, and look through the displays in the small museum.
The Tsu 'Vo Trail is a 1/2 mile loop trail between the twin buttes within the Homolovi Ruins State Park. It is a nature trail and also an archaelogical trail where visitors can see milling stone areas and petroglyphs. It is best viewed in the early evening. Unfortunately, I was there in the early morning, so my pictures are not the best. Make sure you get the brochure from the Visitor's Center to inform you about the petroglyphs. Photo 5 shows where part of the rock gave way. There are petroglyps, now upside down, on the far side of the rock.
The trail at Homolovi II is also fairly short. This one is paved and looked to be wheelchair accessible. Homolovi II was a 1200 room village that at its peak housed 750 to 1000 people. There is not as much left as at nearby Wupatki National Monument but more than at Homolovi I. In addition to the ruins of five rooms shown here, there are kivas and other places of interest along the trail. The nearby Homolovi III and Homolovi IV Ruins are not open to the public.
Here (Photos 1 and 2) you see a large rectangular Kiva (or Ceremonial Room). The benches along three sides, the raised altar and the ventilation shaft in the low wall before the altar are distinguishing charcteristics that let you know this is a Kiva. Photo 3 is of a smaller circular Kiva which was allowed to remain buried. The last photo is of the Central Plaza.
Part of the reason the people settled here at Homolovi was the availability of water from the Little Colorado River (called Paayu by the Hopi). Even when the river looks totally dry, there is water available a few feet down.
In the distance you can see the Tuutukwi or The Hopi Buttes. These are sacred areas to the Hopi and are the home to Katsinas or spirits that bring the rain and other things required for the day to day life of the Hopi.
The Painted Desert if part of the Petrified Forest National Park. It consists of more than 93,500 acres, with vast landscape featuring rocks with many beautiful colors from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges and even pinks.
There is a short loop trail that leads through the ruins at Homolovi I. There is not much left here, one decent wall/corner and a few foundations. There are spots along the way where they have flat stones with potshards placed on them. Unlike most places here you are encouraged to pick up the pieces, examine them more closely, feel the texture, and above all put them back. There are also places along the trail where you can see the Little Colorado River (which does not always have water in it).
Many of the locals in the summer spend time at the creek. Bring a canoe or bathing suit. To reach Clear Creek (brown in the rainy season august - green to clear the rest of the year) go south on highway 87 about 1/2 to 1 mile turn left on the Chevelon road (just over the dike before the prison). Drive about 3 miles east. you will come to a bridge that crosses the creek. You may park on the left for wading or swimming around small boulders/cliffs. The water is deep 10-20 feet be careful. You may also unload your canoe here. Currently no fees are charged. There is a picnic area and restrooms here. From the bridge you can see the creek going west into a small canyon. Around the last area you can see there are many cliffs 10-40 feet high from which the locals jump. I would suggest you not dive. You can walk or drive to the west after you cross the bridge (this is dirt roads) or you can walk to the west about 400 yards to reach the cliffs. When canoeing I try to get out to the creek by 7 and am usually done around noon. If you are lucky you may see a beaver floating along side the canoe. If you turn left 40 feet before the bridge you can go to the small lake (usually silt filled) with camping spots. THis area is shallow.