Blog Not California

When meteors make that giant sucking sound

August 4, 2021

On our way to Flagstaff, we started to encounter speed limit signs: “Motor vehicles: 50mph. Meteors: 26,000mph.” My kids did not notice, of course, because they had their faces buried in their stupid phones. As usual. But at least there are minor benefits to the phone stuff because when we pulled into the parking lot of Meteor Crater National Landmark they had no idea where we were or what we were doing.

Confession: I went to Meteor Crater many years ago with Martin before we were married and I also totally thought it was in Tonopah, which is literally the reason why we were planning to stay in Tonopah on the last night of our trip. In my defense, there is a crater near Tonopah called “Lunar Crater,” but it’s actually 72 miles to the east, which means if we were going to see it we’d have had to backtrack. Just another stunning example of my awesome planning skills.

In this photo that I did not take, you can see the meteor crater that is not actually in Tonopah. Photo by Monja Šebel is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

So when I saw the signs to Meteor Crater I was like “huh?” and then I figured maybe we’d better detour since it was the actual place I’d been wanting to go and was not actually in Tonopah.

Anyway, despite billing itself as a “national landmark,” Meteor Crater is privately owned. So that giant sucking sound you hear as you walk through the door is the sound of all the money being drained out of your wallet. Also, there is a jackalope character called “Jackie” all over the damned place so be prepared to roll your eyes a lot. (Note for the operators of Meteor Crater, you’re not Disneyland and your jackalope character is lame.)

This is the largest remaining fragment of the meteor that made a mile-wide hole in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Despite the overpriced tickets and the lame jackalope character, Meteor Crater is a one-of-a-kind place, and also the detour is long enough that even when confronted with the overpriced tickets you’re like, “Well, we came THIS far …” But it really is something to see a mile-wide crater in the middle of the desert and the comparatively tiny fragment of the actual meteor sitting in the museum lobby. And the museum itself is well done. It’s small, but there’s a lot of interesting content and my kids’ faces did miraculously come out of their phones long enough to get our money’s worth. Well, maybe not ALL our money’s worth, but you know.