The Forgotten Moonscape Crater Fields of the Apollo Program, in Flagstaff, Arizona

Did you know that just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, you can find a forgotten field filled with manmade craters that astronauts used to train for spacewalks during the Apollo program?

It’s true!

The Cinder Lakes crater field is a recreated moonscape that was made by the Astrogeology Research Program in collaboration with scientists from the USGS and NASA, which started in 1963. Scientists blasted hundreds of different-sized craters in a field just north of Flagstaff in the late 1960’s to create an “ideal training ground for astronauts,” aka the “Cinder Lakes Apollo Training Area.”

They made a few different fields to simulate different areas where the astronauts would be landing on the Moon, and astronauts, scientists and engineers used these fields to practice spacewalks and test different rover designs.

While NASA no longer uses these fields anymore, the USDA Forest Service currently manages these fields. The fields have basically reverted to their natural, wild state, but you can definitely still see and walk in the giant craters.

Outside one of the craters
Inside one of the craters

There is also a little visitor center where you can find a variety of memorabilia, like historic rovers and even Neil Armstrong’s handprint!

If you want to learn more about these fields, check out this webpage by Northern Arizona University, which has some amazing photos from the 1960’s, when astronauts actually trained at this location.

Beautiful northern Arizona mountains


Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Crater Lakes crater field? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!




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