Exploring Roden Crater
Exploring Roden Crater, a still-incomplete volcano-top art installation by James Turrell, overnight.

We started up the volcano at dusk, climbing in silence since we had not arranged for a tour. Part way up, in the darkness, we found a door in the cinders, but it proved locked. Scrambling over the crater lip, we saw two discs of glowing light down beneath us. We climbed down to the nearer, peered in, and saw a golden staircase leading down to an earthlike marble set in black stone. In the chamber beneath, every whisper echoed. We sat, and looked, and ate a snack we had carried, and then began exploring a keyhole like side tunnel. At the far end of the tunnel was the entrance chamber the earlier locked door had barred us from. Down other tunnels, we found a cinder chamber, and a ramp leading us up to the crater floor. We slept on the rocks on the crater floor, and awoke to a twilight view of the structures. Returning to the interior, we found that many of the spaces, such as the golden bronze stair, looked dramatically different by day. Even the UFO-like structures became identifiably manmade in the day. We climbed a dirt road out of the crater, pausing briefly by the door we hadn't been able to enter the night before, and walked down the volcano.

As of 2007, the planned opening date is 2011, but the opening has been deferred several times in the past, so there is no assurance that Roden Crater will be open to the public at that time. Until then, you can find a lot of information about James Turrell at this page. Be aware that the desert is not a forgiving place, and that the crater is remote, many miles from the nearest paved road. You can die trying to get there.

Note that since originally posting these photos, I have restricted access to most photos in this set for fear of inducing the unprepared to attempt a trek across the desert.

Update: this set is mentioned in this New York Times article.
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