Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail – Death Valley National Park

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Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Clay at the bottom of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Clay at the bottom of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Looking up at the rim of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Looking up at the rim of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail 1
Ubehebe Crater Floor
Ubehebe Crater location map, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail 2

Photo credit Sayjack, CC BY- ND. View at https://flic.kr/p/yhvQu

Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail 3

Photo credit Sayjack, CC BY- ND. View at https://flic.kr/p/yhvGN

Ubehebe Floor Trail 3
Ubehebe Floor Trail 5
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Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail, Death Valley National Park, California
Clay at the bottom of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Looking up at the rim of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
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Hike to the bottom of the Ubehebe Crater. The trail is very difficult due to the loose cinders.

Total Distance: 0.8 miles out & backElevation Gain: 480ft. (2,590ft. to 2,123ft.)
Difficulty: Easy0-5 Mile Difficulty: Moderate
View Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 starsAuthor’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
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Pets: NoHorses: No
Best Seasons: October-MaySpecial Permits: None
Water Availability: NoneOvernight Options: None
Trailhead Amenities: NoneCrowd Factor: Moderate
Trailhead Access: 0.8
Uses: Day hiker icon No Horses Permitted Icon No Dogs IconTrail Surface: Gravel Trail Surface Icon Scramble Class 2 Icon
Features: Colorful Rocks Trail Feature Icon Volcano Trail Feature Icon Point of Interest Trail Feature Icon Geological Interest Trail Feature IconHazards: Hot Day Icon No Water Icon Scramble Class 2 Icon

Mile-by-Mile: Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail

0.0 Ubehebe Crater Northern Trailhead (2,590ft.). Take the Rim Trail clockwise north (left while looking at the crater). (37.011234°, -117.454762°)

0.1 Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail Junction (2,531ft.). Turn right down the trail toward the bottom of the crater. (37.012673°, -117.454298°)

0.4 Bottom of the crater (2,123ft.). Enjoy views up at the cindery sides before beginning the arduous climb back to the rim. (37.009905°, -117.450990°)

History & More

While the trail is technically “easy” or “moderate,” the route is very steep with loose cinders, making hiking extremely difficult. Do not attempt on a hot day (the black cinders absorb and radiate heat) or unless you are in good condition. Remember, hiking down is much easier than hiking back up!

Ubehebe is pronounced “YOO-bee-HEE-bee.”

The crater is approximately half a mile wide and 777ft. deep.

No one knows exactly when the crater was formed. Scenarists estimate that it’s between 800 and 7,000 years old.

The name “Ubehebe” was first used to describe Ubehebe Peak, 24 miles to the southwest. No one knows how the name became associated with the crater.

Download Trail Map

Coming soon!

Driving Directions

Take the Scotty’s Castle Road to the Ubehebe Crater Road (3 miles south of Scotty’s Castle and 0.2 miles north of the Grapevine Ranger Station). Drive the Ubehebe Crater Road 6 miles to the end of the paved road and the Ubehebe Crater Trailhead.

Special Permits & RegulationsFees
Remember to take food & water!
Leave No Trace Principles are enforced
Drones and model aircrafts are prohibited
Camping is permitted only in designated sites or in areas open to dispersed backcountry camping
Click here for all park rules and regulations
7 Day Pass: $30/private vehicle. $25/motorcycle. $15/individual (bicycle or on foot).
12 Month Pass: $55/Death Valley Annual Pass (valid at Death Valley National Park). $80/America the Beautiful Annual Pass (valid at all national park and federal fee areas). $20/Annual Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/4th Grade Pass (Valid Sept. 1-August 31 of the child’s 4th Grade school year). Free/Military Pass (valid for all active military personel and their dependents with a CAC Card or DD Form 1173).
Lifetime Pass: $80/Lifetime Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/Access Pass (available to all US citizens with perminent disabilities). Free/Access for Veterans and Gold Star Families Pass (valid for all military and veterans with a CAC card, Veteran HJealth Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on state-issued drivers license or identification card.)

Hiking the Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail

Hiking to the bottom of Ubehebe Crater is nothing short of an adventure. The trail isn’t long, but it might as well be a different world than the one at the rim of the crater. The air is still (Ubehebe Crater is known for having a very windy rim), the cinders radiate back heat and glare, you can see little except the sky above, and every sound is deadened and muffled by the cinders. It’s unique but also special – if you don’t mind the hike back up and out!

Descending into the Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Descending into the Ubehebe Crater. PC Sayjack, CC BY-ND 2.0

I did the Ubehebe Crater Trail and then decided to go down into the crater. One of my group was a bit freaked out at the thought of hiking into a volcano, and several others didn’t want the extra workout. So four of us headed down into the depths alone.

Hiking down into the Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Hiking down into the crater. PC Sayjack, CC BY-ND 2.0

The trail is simple and straightforward – a somewhat-graded path of cinders gracefully arcing down to the bottom of the crater. Sure, you slide two steps for every one you take, but that’s fun, right?

Hikers hiking back up out of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Hikers hiking back up. PC Sayjack, CC BY-ND 2.0

Being young and agile, we ran down, sliding, slipping, laughing, and having ourselves a great adventure. We finally tumbled, still giggling, onto the dry mud at the bottom of the crater. There are many small ponds down here after a rain – and many patches of different colored mud after the ponds evaporate. To my disappointment, there wasn’t a lot of places to explore. You can wander around the flat area at the bottom and possibly find a cairn with a post in it.

Cracked mud at the bottom of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Cracked mud at the bottom of the crater. PC John Loo, CC BY 2.0

The views from the bottom aren’t really that spectacular. It’s more cool than pretty. The sky above, like it’s been cookie-cutter cut out; a bit of color on the sides of the crater; the ponds around you; the sweep of the trail – that’s about it.

Views from within Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Views from within the crater. PC steve lyon, CC BY-SA 2.0

After you’ve enjoyed the other-worldliness for a while, you can start the really exciting part: Hiking back up! It’s only 0.4 miles back up to the rim, but the cinders mean you slide back half a step for every step you take. Add to that the glare of the sun, the heat radiating off of the cinders, and the still air and let’s just say it took us 2-3 times as long to get back to the rim as it did to get down there!