You can tour a massive, real-life crater in this small, Alabama town

In small-town Wetumpka, Alabama, there’s an opportunity unlike anything else – you can explore a huge, town-encompassing crater that’s been there for millennia. It’s truly a hidden gem here in Central Alabama, and get this: the city organizes annual tours of the crater. We’ve compiled a quick look at what that tour entails, and how you can enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience in late February.

But first let’s take a quick look at the history of this crater!

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

Wetumpka’s is the only confirmed impact crater anywhere in the state of Alabama. Located east of the city’s downtown area, the crater is 4.7 miles in diameter and is estimated to be about 85 million years old – and yes, that means there were dinosaurs roaming the area in what was then the late Cretaceous Period.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

However, none of these findings were confirmed until 1998 when “shocked quartz” was discovered near the crater’s center. The substance is indicative of impact events, thermonuclear explosions, and other loud, destructive occasions.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

It’s hard to believe thatĀ thisĀ is what Wetumpka was 85 million years ago, pterodactyls and all.

When you start the tour in Wetumpka, you’ll notice large signs at each stop that detail why the location is significant. You’ll also have a guide with you to help put the information into context.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

Sometimes, it’s hard to picture the scale of the formation. This image looks out over the crater from its rim, showing just how massive it really is.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

You’ll have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of the remaining geological formations.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

These formations include what’s called “astrobleme,” which is defined as the “eroded remnant of a large crater made by the impact of a meteorite or comet.” This is perhaps the most beautiful part of the Wetumpka Impact Crater.

(Source: Chrietzberg Photography)

The cost to take part in the tour is $20 for adults and $10 for children. There are multiple tours going on throughout the day:

  • 9:00 a.m.
  • 10:15 a.m.
  • 11:30 a.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.

Each of the tours will last for approximately one hour and 40 minutes. In the first portion, viewers will watch a video about the crater; the second is what we’ve detailed above. The tours are all rain-or-shine, so come to Wetumpka with confidence!

To pre-register for one of the tours, call or e-mail Valencia Smith, who is the Wetumpka Crater Commission’s special events coordinator:

Valencia Smith

Phone: 334-567-5147

Email: VSmith@cityofwetumpka.com

It is advised that you book your tours before February 15, as space is limited.

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