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Cross section of crater.

Odessa Meteor Crater

Field review by the editors.

Odessa, Texas

Travelers may understandably get excited when they first see the "Odessa Meteor Crater" signs off of Interstate 20. The claims made on its behalf are all true. It is indeed the second largest meteor crater in the U.S., a hole 550 feet wide and 100 feet deep formed when a thousand-ton mass of space-iron slammed into the earth.

Unfortunately, that was at least 50,000 years ago. In the millennia since, the crater has filled nearly to its rim with West Texas dust and silt. Now it's a barely discernible depression in scrubby rangeland, as visually thrilling as an Odessa vacant lot. Still, it is a meteor crater, and it has a handy walking trail lined with signs that explain its history and caution against removing rocks or irritating the local snakes.

The crater is free to explore (from the trail), and an adjacent museum provides more information and sells fragments of the meteor based on weight. A nearby Texas historical plaque claims that the bulk of the space rock is still buried 170 feet below the surface. Maybe some day someone will dig it out, and visitors will finally have a big crater-like hole in the ground to look at.

Odessa Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater Rd, Odessa, TX
I-20 exit 108, then drive south two miles on Meteor Crater Rd/Moss Ave.
Tu-Sa 10-5, Su 1-5. Gated after hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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In the region:
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