The second largest known meteor crater on US soil, the Odessa Meteor Crater is 550 feet wide and was once around 100 feet deep.
I say once because wind and rain have conspired with a whole lot of dirt to pretty much fill the crater in. It’s not a whole lot to look at with the untrained eye but second largest crater in the US it remains and, despite being rather nondescript to the average viewer, it still holds a lot of mystery and wonder – and the onsite museum makes up for what the crater seemingly lacks.
Odessa Crater is the result of a two-mile wide barrage of thousands of nickel-iron meteorites, likely originating from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, falling to hit West Texas some 20,000 years back or more (a lot more – the estimate goes back as far as 50,000 – so much for pinpoint accuracy).
The main mass of the culprit responsible for the Odessa Meteor Crater was long thought to be buried down in the buried crater, some one hundred and sixty-four feet below the surface. They even sank a big shaft once in the hunt for the thing but further study has revealed that the Odessa Meteor Crater is an explosion crater and not an impact crater. In other words, the main meteor, estimated to have been around 70 tons, was traveling at such a speed when it hit the earth that it vaporized: poof.
Pieces of the crater’s erstwhile meteorite and its brethren were, however, recovered and await your curious gaze at the Thomas Rodman Museum and Visitor Center, located on site. Admission is free and they’ve got a gift shop – stop on by.
The Odessa Meteor Crater and Thomas Rodman Museum
10 miles west of Odessa, TX via Interstate 20, exit 108
Tues-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun, 1pm-5pm
The Odessa Meteor Crater Trail is open for self guided tours every day, 9am-5pm
And say, while you’re in Odessa and environs, be sure to check in for a stay at one of our West Texas Bed and Breakfast Inns. Not only will they set you up with a comfy bed and nutritious vittles come morning but they can also tell you about all kinds of fascinating things to check out in the area, things like the Odessa Meteor Crater.