On our way to the Page AZ Balloon Rally there were two places that we wanted to visit, the Meteor Crater and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Meteor Crater is located just off I-40 about 37 miles east of Flagstaff and is 50,000 years old. It is about 5 miles south of the highway, Elaine and I thought that it was interesting. It is privately owned and somewhat expensive for viewing a hole-in-the-ground. I think that we paid about $18 per person. The price includes, the film, guided tours, access to the museum, and catwalks that take you below the rim.
There are a few things that we found especially interesting.
- This crater is the best-preserved meteorite crater on Earth.
- In 1891, the crater was thought to have been formed by volcanic action.
- Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer and owner of the land, in 1906 proposed that the crater was formed by a meteorite impact, but his claims were viewed with skepticism. Scientists at that time did not believe that meteorites could cause large impact craters on Earth.
- Starting in the 1940’s nuclear detonation testing was conducted in the Nevada desert. Eugene Shoemaker had been inspecting the shocked mineral formations caused by the nuclear tests. In 1960, he visited the Meteor Crater and concluded that the same shocked mineral formations were found there, therefore the crater was caused by an impact rather than an explosion (like a volcano.)
- In 1960, this crater was the first confirmed meteorite crater on Earth. Shoemaker’s research on how to identify these craters has been used to identify another 200 meteorite impact craters on Earth.
- The crater was used to train NASA astronauts during the Apollo Moon program.
I think that it is interesting that something this significant was not determined to be possible until the 1960’s. After all, we had transistor radios and color TV by that time.
We can’t say enough about our visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the drive to the East exit of the park. One stunning vista after another. Some of the most beautiful were those where we could see the Colorado River in the canyon. At one place, we could see the white of some rapids, someone there mentioned that the waves were over 8 feet high in those rapids.
The drive up to Page was thru some very remote land, towns were sometimes over 40 miles apart. Part of the trip was on a BLM road through the Navaho Reservation.