Amboy Crater is nestled halfway between Barstow and Needles, just off historic Route 66. It is located near, but not within, Mojave National Preserve. A visit to Amboy Crater will definitely take you back in time. Ten thousand years ago, this cinder cone volcano erupted, transforming the surrounding landscape. A 3-mile round trip trail leads up and into the crater, connecting to a path around the rim that provides startling views.
From the parking lot, the trail starts out wide, before narrowing down to a single track. The trail crosses the desert floor, which in the spring time is covered with wild flowers, and swings around the right side of the crater. On the far side, the trail enters through an opening in the rim and climbs across the center to the top. The views from the rim of this 250-foot tall crater show a landscape transformed by volcanic ash.
Amboy Crater is an easy stop for travelers along Interstate 40 and a great detour for those headed from Southern California to Mojave National Preserve. Amboy Crater is on BLM land with no entrance fee. The crater has been protected by Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark since the 1970s, which became part of Mojave Trails National Monument when it was created in February of 2016.
To get to the trailhead: From Barstow, take Interstate 40 west to exit 50. Turn right on Crucero Road and make an immediate left onto Route 66. Take route 66 for 26 miles to the crater.
Trailhead address: Crater Road & Route 66, Amboy, CA 92304
Trailhead coordinates: 34.5572, -115.7814 (34° 33′ 25.9″N 115° 46′ 53″W)
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