Meteor Crater – The World’s Best Preserved Asteroid Impact Crater

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Meteor Crater is one of the only craters on Earth which resembles the classic impact craters we see on the moon. It’s a recent impact crater in a region of the planet which hasn’t seen a lot of erosion which contributes to its preservation. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to hike into this crater along with researchers who study the asteroid impact problem, giving me a rarely seen view of this unique structure.

Thanks to Meteor Crater for enabling this

Find out more about the B612 Foundation and their mission to protect the world from the threat of Asteroid impacts.

  1. Fred Pilcher

    Visiting the crater was one of the great thrills of my life. :D

  2. Lemon Lady

    Accidentally stopped by it in later 1970s and was so excited, as I love any geological or in this case, extra-planetary sites. But they wouldn’t let me go out due to the weather, so I just had to get back on the road home, but it was impressive, nonetheless. There was a great view from the visitor’s center windows, which is a whole different view than being in it or above it. Pretty monstrous and it’s way, way, way down to the center. BTW, the visitor’s center windows look exactly the same as when I was there, 50+ yrs ago. Comforting, somehow. Nice to see the iron meteor chunks they had on display, too. Just thinking the “luck” that the meteor had to hit the 1/3 of the planet that is land. Most hit the ocean b/c there’s so much of it.

  3. Nurhaal

    At 10 to 20 megatons, this was an explosion of the size of the Castle Bravo nuclear test.

    A big ass boom

  4. MonkeyJedi99

    When I was younger, my family lived in Arizona for nearly four years, and we never went to this crater or the grand Canyon.
    Thank you for showing so much of this natural attraction to a person who never got to see it in person!

  5. LexieAssassin

    Would’ve sworn my parents saying when they saw it there was an opportunity to get into the crater, but the charge was exorbitant. I guess it’s only open if you’ve got the right connections… >_>
    Either way, would be interested in seeing a drone explore that mine shaft.

  6. 1kreature

    “wondering what kind of science we are doing in the crater…” Observing the mystery goo of course!

  7. Dave

    The rim museum has some spectacular rock crystals on display. Actually they are more interesting than the big hole in back of the museum.

  8. Aelool Indowy

    If that meteor actually listened to Scott’s advice and flew safe, this video would have to be about a flat piece of the ground that could have been hit by a meteor, but wasn’t.

  9. John Baringer

    I had to check the crater out back in 2005 when I was in Arizona on vacation, for obvious reasons. It was a nice day trip. They even asked if I was related when I paid for entry that day. Before anyone asks, I have no direct relation to Daniel Barringer or his descendants, but it is probably safe to say being a very distant cousin is quite possible.

  10. T.J. Zamboni Schwartz

    Based on your Twitter post timing, I legit think I was driving past on the highway while you were there on my way between Gallup and Flagstaff.

    I’ve been there a few times and it’s one of the most awe-inspiring things ever.

  11. John Smith

    Always enjoy an unexpected field trip with professor Manley!

  12. Bill D. in Iowa

    09:15… I asked the guide there about erosion. She said it had filled in about 3 or 4 meters over time. Good to hear the space capsule is still there. Gutted of course, nothing to see inside. But the crater is right off the interstate. You cant see it from there but its only a mile off. The Painted Desert is directly North of there, and the Petrified Forest is nearby too. Unfortunately its been pretty well picked over by the tourists, but still some things to see. You could do all 3 in an afternoon.

  13. ZX2 Aerospace

    Near Future, low-budget Sci-Fi movie pitch: DART hits the asteroid and changes the parent body’s orbit enough to put it on a path to hit the Earth.

  14. 74360CUDA

    Other attractions include volcanic flows and cones, the Petrified Forest, extensive Native American ruins and farther to the west a place called Montezuma’s Well which is a different giant round hole in the ground.

  15. mgabrysSF

    If you’re still in AZ – check out La Posada in Winslow. Great art, historic rooms and some of the best Breakfast Burritos in the high-desert. Quite close to the crater.

  16. Greg

    Thank you Scott for sharing this very interesting film about Meteor Crater with all the information and background.

  17. PageMonster

    “Size of a city” is rather an exaggeration – unless you mean a village that THINKS it’s a city.

    Shoemaker is also immortalised in a song of the same name by Nightwish.

  18. Jake Sheppard

    Barringer crater is so epic, it really is in great condition and seeing as it is in an area which receives some rainfall one might expect it to be more greatly eroded for its supposed age. Randall Carlson speculates that it could be younger, potentially sub 20.000 years old. It certainly looks very fresh. Love your work Scott all the very best.

  19. longlakeshore

    When you visit look for pronghorn antelope in the surrounding desert. It’s one of the fastest animals on Earth having evolved to escape the American Cheetah which went extinct during the Pleistocene.

  20. Slice of Bread

    crazy how this whole area got excavated from impact, but the fences are still good.

    American quality… i bet they are made in USA

  21. longlakeshore

    The rim of the crater rises high enough above surrounding terrain that you can see it from I-40 as you drive by.

  22. Jody Haberfield

    I flew over from oz in 2019 and went to visit. Even used my fuel voucher are the service station. Thank you Scott for this and helping me to relive my visit there

  23. Metaphysical Migraine

    I must say looking up out of that massive bunker reminded me of a par 3 hole at Mt Alexander golf course. I almost got a birdie but did win two tournaments back to back.

  24. Adrian Vogt

    I generally like your content.

    But it’s even on another level if I can personally relate to what you show. I have been at this site in 2016 and loved your insight from the other angle a regular tourist cannot see.

    To everyone traveling and having a remote interesting science: plan 3-4 hours of your time and enjoy it. It’s worth it.

  25. DavidSmashGames

    It was awesome to go see this back in 2019!
    almost the exact date of this video lol

  26. Nostromo

    What I love about Scott’s work is how it draws together dribs and drabs of halfvast info that we all hear and there into a lovely few minutes of pure intellectual pleasure. Now I am not angling for a date but if you’re ever down around -40, 175e please do drop in and I’ll show you my radio telescope. 2 questions: Why is metor crater so squarish looking and has it ever been considered as the foundation for a new radio telescope?

  27. MCB18

    We went there since it was on our way to the Grand Canyon. I was way too young to understand why it was so important, but it did leave an impression on me.

  28. Xbolt

    As an AZ native, I’ve always had a special love of Meteor Crater. Been there a few times. And I’ve always thought it was a missed opportunity that they don’t have a “meteor burger” in the restaurant.

  29. EricTheCat

    Great video. When I scheduled a trip to Arizona in 2005 I purposely timed my flight back so that if the crater happened to be visible from the plane and I happened to be on the correct side of the plane to be able to see it that the sun would be at a good angle to get a picture of it. To my surprise I did see the crater and managed to get a great picture of it.

  30. Jose Moreno

    Tldw: space rock hits ground really fast and left a big hole and you can’t go in it unless you’re cool enough like Scott

  31. Peeks'n'Pokes

    Amazing to think that there has been 49 millennia of dust blowing into the crater and it hasn’t filled up yet.

  32. Falk Schubutz

    this crater was the most interesting thing in this map book that we got in East Germany back then.

  33. Krommandant

    I really love this story! You are a great narrator for scientific stuff :)

  34. Krommandant

    So sad for the guy who bought the crater thinking of making it big :(
    Dreams were shattered “and so he died”.

  35. EarthKnight

    I recall going here as a kid back in the late 70s. Should go back again.

  36. john frink

    Also love the crater. The concentric raised rings in the land around the crater for miles are like waves in water when you drop a rock. The land essentially behaved like a fluid when the energy was released.

  37. Gene Cash

    I’ve never seen the size of the meteor shown like you did with your red dot. It really gets across the amount of energy involved.

  38. Matt Soreng

    I live in flagstaff which is a short drive from the meteor. Its breathtaking when you get to the edge and realize just how massive this crater is.

  39. Peter Frankland

    Another interesting fact about this crater is that the impactor landed at the intersection of two minor fault lines. This helped form the crater into a square shape with rounded corners. You can see this square shape at 1’41” and 4’07”.

  40. BerZerK

    7:48 Haha, I can’ t believe it. When the Microsoft Flightsimulator was released last year, we flew into the crater with a Cessna and circled in it. Never heard of this accident until right now. Would love to see it in reality one day. Greets from Bavaria/Germany.

  41. Agamemnon

    That mineshaft is an artificial hole inside a natural hole. It’s like the opposite of building a tower on a mountaintop.

  42. somerandomnification

    I’m not looking forward to the day that this becomes the second-best-preserved asteroid impact crater.

  43. Mr Jean Deaux

    Thoroughly fascinating – every last word! Had me engrossed throughout. Great visual accompaniment, too. Excellent work, cheers Scott.

  44. Todd Johnson

    I was there when I was a kid. At that time you only had to pay to enter the visitor center (maybe $15 for a family?) and if you wanted to walk to the bottom you were free to do so at your own risk. I think you could pay more for a guided tour. But most of the stuff at the bottom was mining equipment.

  45. Mike Laffoon

    Scott, I hope you took the time to explore nearby Carlsbad Caverns. I was far more impressed with Carlsbad Caverns, than Meteor Crater, while traveling through the region.

  46. rpbajb

    It’s a very interesting place. I walked around the rim years ago when that was still permitted, but I’ve never been inside. One of Barringer’s wooden drill rigs is still found on the rim opposite the visitors center. Preserved by the dry weather I guess.

  47. Christian A

    Saw it IRL and freaking loved it. Also visited the observatory in Flagstaff and the grand canyon, such interesting to see and explore there!

  48. Ellie O'Daire

    Love that they have Semi & RV parking. I took a ride down there in an 18 wheeler once and it was one of the coolest lunch breaks of my driving career!

  49. Pronto

    6:30 “…bullets can embed themselves inside the target…” Rifle bullets fired at steel plates, bricks, etc. make a ‘splat mark’ that is almost identical to this crater. However the width and depth of the mark is similar to the size of the bullet, since they have much less energy. The bullet itself shatters/vaporizes, much like the meteor.

  50. Craig Robertson

    There are a couple of Cessna jockies who could’ve used Scott’s trademark parting valediction.

  51. HypatCH

    Scott: “you can get guided tours of the rim but you can’t get to go into it”
    Scott in literally the next clip: * flexing being inside meteor crater *

  52. Mark Chambers

    The first time I saw it I was about 10 years old back in 1964. I was more interested in a space suit that was on display in the visitor center and other stuff about space flight. Watching a little star move across the sky one evening in Indiana with my dad telling me that it was John Glenn in a space capsule opened my imagination. I figured I would probably be able to go to the moon by the time I was in my 30’s (my parents age at the time). Guess that didn’t happen.

    The 3rd time I saw it I was interested in the crater itself. It was just hard to imagine a huge chunk of iron could make such a crater. If the whole thing was still in it’s original size before entering the atmosphere I imagine it would have been easier to understand. When I looked at the iron, I remember thinking it should look like a ball of rust, but it was relatively free of rust.

  53. LøøT3R

    Seen loads of pics and videos from the top or above the crater. Never from the bottom of it. Thats amazing Scott. 😊

  54. Paul Paulson

    This is how I would classify impact events:
    Impact with local consequences
    Impact with global consequences
    Extinction level impact
    Destruction level impact
    Evaporation level impact

    From the view of the meteor, it was an evaporation level impact when the earth impacted into it. I hope this never happens to earth. One could argue if the Theia impact that formed the moon was a destruction mevel event or not, but thankfully earth kind of survived.

  55. Josef Princiotta

    It is amazing that this meteor, from such a great distance, came in at a tremendous speed and JUST MISSED THE GIFT SHOP AND VISITOR’S CENTER. Fantastic.!

  56. Sadiq Mohamed

    Many years ago on a trip to Los Angeles, I flew from St Louis via Albuquerque and we flew over the crater. Even from 30,000 feet or so it was impressive. Nice video and a pleasant surprise to see Ariel there. I hope she releases her own video.

  57. Whitefox

    3:45 really gives you a perspective on how insanely huge this crater is.

  58. Steven Fidler

    I went there back in 1994 and I found it very interesting. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us out on the rim of the crater due to high winds so we stayed inside the visitor center. I would guess that since then the visitor center would have gone through a remodel. I think it would be fun to take my own family there now that my oldest is now how old I was when I had visited the site.

  59. Jerr's Jalopys

    That’s so awesome that you got to go down there. They don’t even let normal people walk along the rim let alone go all the way down! That’s so fortunate.

  60. Chris Stanley

    I was lucky enough to visit this crater a few years ago. Such an impressive place, I would have loved the opportunity to climb down into the centre!

  61. Tim Herring

    I visited this crater many years ago on a driving tour of the western US. For a more personal, albeit less dramatic site, try the Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas.

  62. James Bruce

    Scientists thought this was a volcano for the longest time. Local indigenous peoples had a tradition about a great light that fell from the sky. Listen to the locals.

  63. Zachary H

    We seem to have had the same itinerary this year, Scott! First the big island in June, and now Meteor Crater! I passed through just recently on my way to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

  64. Abebe345

    Love the astronomy, geology as much as Space. More please. Nice job.

  65. Apollo Reinard

    Been there twice. Always wanted to go down there. Thanks for the virtual tour!! I still have a coffee mug from the gift shop to frequently remind me of the place. I have an Arecibo mug too.. Another bucket list spot I visited. :)

  66. Balu's Videos

    You are one lucky bloke to go down, Scott! Been there 6 or 7 times, and every time I longed to go to the center and look! Dream unfulfilled.

  67. Alec Golas

    I went there a couple years ago! I’m jealous you got to actually go inside. The wind at the rim is very strong, so I’m surprised how calm it is down inside the crater.

  68. Roger Garrett

    Thank you for that excellent video. I visited Meteor Crater back in 1968. Two things that I think they ought to have there is (1) a full-scale model of the asteroid itself at the visitor center so that people can get a sense of the size of the asteroid that created the crater, and (2) a “ski-lift” that will take people down into the crater itself. When I was there in 1968 you could walk (at least part way) around the rim but there was no access to the crater floor. It appears that now there is a trail that (strong, healthy, fit) people can hike down, but I’d bet a lot of visitors would pay a few bucks to be transported down to and back up from the crater floor by something like a ski lift.

  69. Marcel Huguenin

    That was a blast of a video, very interesting. Thanks for sharing Scott.

  70. GoodieJ17

    My wife and I went there in 2010 as part of our honeymoon trip. Jealous that you got to go down into it.

  71. Christopher Pardell

    was in an airliner flying to somewhere in Texas, when the pilot pointed out we were flying almost directly over the crater… so he banked the plane way over to the right, and then way over to the left so folks could look down into the crater from about 6 miles up. Very impressive.

  72. Kal Palnicki

    Stopped there in 1973. Impressive crater. I was upset the local gas station was charging $.52 a gallon. Mostly paid. $.29/gallon on the way to California.

  73. AkiraR

    Been there once with my grandpa when I was a kid, now I live like 3 hours away, studying aerospace engineering at ASU, would have been cool to go down with this group, would have been just as cool to stumble into the great Manley and grab a beer…

  74. MaxCruise73

    Well worth the trip. Need to see it with one’s own eye to appreciate the size. Also, the area around the crater is very flat.
    Highly recommended.

  75. Kenji Okura

    imo it’s both awesome and terrifying how much bigger the crater is compared to the meteor.

  76. David Hemsath

    My wife and I visited there in 2005: a great experience and memory.

  77. William Holmes

    How good is this mini-documentry, bravo Scott, bravo 👏 👏👏

  78. Brian Betron

    Thanks Scott, I have flown over that crater many times on commercial flights on my way to the west coast. I have wanted to visit for years. I think I spotted another one east bound out of Boise ID a couple of months ago.

  79. Abdullah Unalyan

    We cataloged almost all extinction level meteors but still something can come from outside the solar system and hit before we take action.

  80. NyFyre

    Meteor Crater: big hole conveniently close to a bunch of other big holes!

  81. Hal Schirmer

    I’m waiting for an employee with a sense of humor to put a movie prop copy of Thor’s Hammer at the center.

  82. Jonathan Root

    We went last fall. It was amazing to see in person!

  83. Shane Patrick

    I’ve never seen footage inside the crater before. Thank you.

  84. Helium Road

    Was there some years ago, cool place pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I-40 gets you within a few miles and then it’s a drive through empty desert to get there. Got some cool photos. Standing on the rim is pretty cool.

  85. theJimTanker

    Pretty cool place. I visited it with my kids a long time ago, they were pretty young. I’d love to take them back now that they’re older.

  86. Aubrey Freeman

    Humans: “I will use advanced physics and a military industrial complex to make the most powerful weapon ever.”

    Space: “Haha big rock go brrrr”

  87. Xavier Olivas

    Meteor Crater. Ahhh a awesome place to visit tbh. Frequented when I was younger. My favorite memory was when a tour guide showed us a large Iron Meteorite chunk (5:26) on display from the impact telling us about it and then told us that the Meteorite was not even bolted to the display stand. He joked, “If you can lift this and take it out to your car, you’re free to take it home.”

  88. first last

    Perfect timing. I was just now reading O. Richard Norton’s book Rocks From Space chapter on Meteor Crater.
    I have a nice chunk of Canyon Diablo meteorite on hand to make this even more fun!

  89. Chris Miller

    In 100,000 years someone is going to be very confused why there’s a plane buried underneath a meteor crater.

  90. Harrison Kelly

    I was there many years ago and it was a windy and overcast day. But still it is a great memory of mine and i wish to see it again. Also the museum they have was just so much fun to see. Thank you scott for doing a clip of this amazing site

  91. z50king29

    Wow, it’s a good thing the meteor missed the gift shop!

  92. Sunkshark

    Visited this as a child. Will forever remember how amazing it was.

  93. J S

    Amazing place, thanks for the tour Scott

  94. Big_Tex

    I visited there just in July. Didn’t get to go into the bowl! Awesome place. Not to mention it’s conveniently close to the Grand Canyon.

  95. David Campbell

    The wife and I went there this Summer. We didn’t even plan on it, just saw the sign while driving and went on a whim. It is very much worth it. Thanks Scott.

  96. Floridacracker

    My brother went there. He said it was amazing how close it hit to the visitor center!!! (LOL)

  97. Gort-Marvin0Martian

    As a LONG time amateur astronomer I was simply stunned at the sight of it. When you first see the inside it almost takes your breath away.
    Thank you for these great observations. I wanted to go down in there soooo bad when I was there. I definitely support the search for possible Earth impact asteroids. As a member of The Planetary Society, established by Carl Sagan and Louis Friedman we fund astronomers who search for said asteroids.

  98. Duchess and Hammer

    Looking forward to one now I know what it’ll be like. Thanks Scott.

  99. Rich: Kung Flu Bat Beef™

    That meteor almost hit interstate 40!

  100. DingDongDaddy

    Should also hit sunset crater while in that area – I can still hear it crunching under my feet.

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