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Five Cool and Crazy Geological Wonders to See in Arizona

1. Barringer Meteorite Crater. Located west of Winslow, in northern Arizona, about 37 miles east of Flagstaff, this privately-owned ancient impact site which many refer to as simply the "Meteor Crater" includes an interpretative center, theater, and gift (and rock) shop, and is listed as a National Natural Landmark. The crater, which some say is the best preserved in the world, is nearly 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet, and the result of collusion between a 300,000-ton asteroid traveling 26,000 miles per hour and the Earth, exploding with the force of 2.5 million tons of TNT -- about 50,000 years ago when the area was much cooler and damper, grasslands and woodlands inhabited with wooly mammoths and giant ground sloths. The crater is named for Daniel Moreau Barringer, a Philadelphia mining engineer who was one of the first to claim the crater was the result of an impact - and not a natural land formation. Fee-based.

2. Cathedral Rock. Located in the Coconino National Forest just south of Sedona, in central Arizona, about 30 miles south of Flagstaff, this famous red butte landmark is one of the most photographed natural sites in the state, easily seen and accessed from the highway. For the ultimate experience, hike Cathedral Rock Trail (USFS Trail #170), a short (1.5-mile RT), but strenuous hike (part rock-climb) that offers amazing views from the top -- in the afternoon to take advantage of the shade; the trailhead can be found off of AZ 179 and Back O' Beyond Road. If you don't make it all the way to the top, you can also get nice views from the Courthouse Butte Vista (at about .3 miles into the trail). For an alternate view of Cathedral Rock (as well as Wilson Mountain), jump onto Templeton Trail when it crosses Cathedral Rock Trail and follow it along Oak Creek for about 3 miles until you reach Red Rock Crossing.

3. Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. Located in north-central Arizona along Hwy 89, near the border with Utah, 130 miles north of Flagstaff, check out all the recreational activities, geological wonders, and amazing vistas within the 1.25-million-acre Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Includes Lake Powell, a 200-mile long reservoir (the second-largest human-made lake in the U.S. with a surface area of 162,700 acres) created by the construction of the 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam along the Colorado River, which flooded much of lower Glen Canyon. (The dam, which is the fourth highest in the U.S., is an attraction in itself, and includes a visitors center that has exhibits, videos, bookstore, and restrooms, as well as offering daily tours of the dam.) You'll find more than 2,000 miles of shoreline and steep canyon walls along Lake Powell, which was named for Major John Wesley Powell (an important explorer of the Colorado River Basin). Boating is by far the most popular activity on Lake Powell, but fishing, camping, photography, and backcountry hiking are also popular.

4. Mogollon Rim. Located in central Arizona, this 200-mile long, 1,000-foot cliff that has amazed travelers for thousands of years runs across central Arizona through three national forests (Coconino National Forest, Tonto National Forest, and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest), forming the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, starting in northern Yavapai County and ending near the border with New Mexico. The Rim serves as a boundary between two distinct worlds: the cool high country above it, and the burning deserts below it. The cliffs of the Rim are composed of limestone and sandstone, with the highest cliffs found at the Kaibab Limestone and Coconino Sandstone cliffs. The cliffs are named after Don Ignacio Flores Mogollon, the Spanish governor of New Mexico in the early 1700s. Thick Ponderosa Pine forests are found on the slopes of the Rim, as well as the plateau north of it. In some places the rim is capped -- or even buried -- by extensive basaltic lava flows. Find Forest service Road 300 (in the west, north of Strawberry; in the east, near Woods Canyon) and be prepared for a wild ride -- both in terms of the quality of the road and in the amazing scenery you'll discover.

5. Painted Desert. Located in northern Arizona, these vast desert badlands run 160 miles, from the east end of the Grand Canyon National Park southeast through the Navajo Nation into the Petrified Forest National Park. You'll find all types of colored rock in these 93,500 acres, from deep lavenders and rich greys, to vibrant reds and oranges, and all kinds of pinks. A good chunk lies within the Petrified Forest National Park, within the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area -- so no driving, but numerous trails to see the colors up close, including Billings Gap Overlook Hike (3-mile RT), Blue Forest Hike (3-miles RT), Jasper Forest Hike (2.5-mile RT), and Red Basin/Clam Beds Hike (8.5 miles RT). The Painted Desert was named by Francisco Vazquez Coronado during his 1540 expedition. While in the area, check out the Wupatki National Monument Indian Ruins.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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