What happens when a 150 foot wide chunk of Iron and nickel drops in on the Earth? You get a hole a mile wide and 500 feet deep! Welcome to Barringer Crater, aka Meteor Crater. The crater is located 40 miles East of Flagstaff, AZ. Its right off of Interstate 40.
This is the windest place North of Antarctica! There is a steady 30 mph wind and it gusts well above that. But its the easiest to visit and best preserved crater around. Most craters are eroded by water, in Northern Arizona not much of a problem.
There are three observation areas set up along the rim. Two are slightly below the rim. There is no access within or to the bottom. You get a fairly young (50,000 year old) feature that all the hallmarks an impact crater. This is what the Moon surface is coveted with. The astronauts actually trained here before going to the Moon.
There’s a movie telling the story. There are guided tours subject to weather. The have a small display of other impact craters, meteor types, and video simulaions. You can put your hands on a 1400 pound piece of the meteor responsible for this whole thing.
If you are in the Flagstaff area, its worth a stop even at $18/adult. This is a good add on to Sunset Crater or Wapitaki trips
Usery Mountain Park is at the border of Mesa and the desert. The park is part of the Maricopa County Park System. There are 30 miles of hiking trails, camping (tents or RV’s), and archery range. It does run $6 to get a car load in.
Every month there’s a full moon. Coincidentally, there’s a Range hike too. Be warned, during the winter there will be 200-300 sets of feet crunching sand and gravel. I only had 60 people with me tonite.
The hike itself is fairly level. A distance of about 2 miles should be easy for almost all who can hike. The landscape is typical for the Sonoran desert. Saguaro, chollas, and assorted cacti. Views of the mountains surrounding the park. It’s silver blue in the moonlight.