Ubehebe Crater is located in the north end of Death Valley National Park near the Eureka Dunes and Scotty’s Castle. A parking lot along the rim provides a great view of the crater, and there are also three trails to choose from.
The science: Ubehebe Crater is a maars volcano that was created by a phreatic eruption two to seven thousand years ago. Hot magma converted groundwater into steam, which created an intense pressure and an intense explosion. The result was a half-mile wide crater surrounded by a large cinder field.
The hikes: Those wanting a different perspective than the one from the parking lot, have three trails to chose from.
Option 1: “Down the crater”
This trail leads off with a quick easy descent to the crater floor, but the steep 600-foot climb back to the rim does not look as enjoyable.
Option 2: “Little Hebe Trail”
This one-mile out-and-back follows the western rim to a much smaller adjacent crater, Little Hebe. Along the way, hikers get a good view of the fault of yellow and orange stone, which divides the eastern wall of the crater. Beyond the crater, one can see an expansive cinder field darkening the desert floor.
Option 3: “The Rim Trail”
Continue past Little Ubehebe on this 2-mile circuit around the crater back to the parking lot. Much of the sandy rim is level, but the west side of the crater is 270 feet higher. That plus the soft terrain makes this a bit more than a stroll. The views don’t change much between options two and three.
It is often extremely windy along the rim of Ubehebe Crater. Be prepared for cooler temperatures than the desert floor.
To get to Ubehebe Crater: From Furnace Creek, take the 190 north for 17 miles to the intersection with Scotty’s Castle Road. Turn right and continue north for 33.4 miles on Scotty’s Castle Road. Turn left on Racetrack Road (1.6 miles short of Scotty’s Castle) and drive 5.5 miles over gravel to the crater.
Trailhead address: Ubehebe Crater Road, Death Valley National Park, CA 92328
Trailhead coordinates: 37.012327, -117.455034 (37° 00′ 44.37″N 117° 27′ 18.12″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.
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