Walk around the rim of a not-so-ancient cinder cone with great views.
|Total Distance: 1.75 mile loop (2.4 miles with Little Hebe Crater Spur||Elevation Gain: 494ft. (2,514ft. to 2,873ft.)|
|Difficulty: Easy||0-5 Mile Difficulty: Moderate|
|View Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: No|
|Best Seasons: October-May||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: None||Overnight Options: None|
|Trailhead Amenities: None||Crowd Factor: Moderate to Crowded|
|Trailhead Access: 0.8|
Mile-by-Mile: Ubehebe Crater Rim Trail
0.0 Ubehebe Crater Southern Trailhead (2,590ft.). To walk the Rim Trail counter-clockwise, take the trail south from the parking area (right if facing the crater). (37.010704°, -117.454941°)
0.25 Little Hebe Spur Trail 1 (2,765ft.). This is the beginning of the Little Hebe Spur Trail (adds 0.7 miles). Take the left fork to continue along the rim of the Ubehebe Crater. (37.006768°, -117.454536°)
0.4 Little Hebe Spur Trail 2 (2,792ft.). Continue left around the rim of Ubehebe Crater. (37.005378°, -117.452425°)
0.5 Little Hebe Spur Trail 3 (2,830ft.). This is the south end of the Little Hebe Spur Trail. Continue left around the Ubehebe Crater. Enjoy views both down into the colorful crater and also out to the colorful hills and mountains that surround the cinder cone. (37.005427°, -117.450709°)
1.6 Ubehebe Crater Floor Trail Junction (2,531ft.). Continue right on the Rim Trail. (37.012673°, -117.454298°)
1.75 Ubehebe Crater Northern Trailhead (2,590ft.). (37.011234°, -117.454762°)
History & More
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. Scientists 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.
You can get a pretty good view of the crater from the parking area. However, you can experience it more fully and from different angles by walking the trail along the rim.
As you hike, you may notice the cinder field around the crater. When Ubehebe Crater exploded, it tossed cinders out across the field.
It’s not uncommon for the rim trail to be very windy – hold onto your hat!
Download Trail Map
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.
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
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 Rim Trail
I hiked the Ubehebe Crater early one morning in May, hoping to avoid some of the valley’s heat by rising up to the rim’s nearly 3,000ft. elevation above sea level. In some ways, we succeeded – early in the morning and the high elevation meant it was cool for a while. But then the sun started baking the black cinders, and the radiating heat was oppressive. So much for just getting to a higher elevation to cool off!
Still, the views were good, especially in the early morning before too many people came along to hike the trail. So it was worth it to see the pretty colors in the crater and hike around the rim. While you’re in the area, you might want to visit Scotty’s Castle since it’s nearby.
The trail around the rim of Ubehebe Crater isn’t very long, but it’s also not the easiest trail I’ve ever hiked. Much of the pathway is made up of cinders (the crater is in the middle of a cinder field, after all, and said cinders came from an explosion within the crater). It’s firm enough that you won’t sink in the cinders, but it’s a bit like walking through sand – which just takes more energy than walking on a paved sidewalk!
From the parking area, walk south (right) to hike the trail counter-clockwise. After about a quarter mile, you’ll pass the spur to Little Hebe Crater on your right. This is definitely a worthy side-trip if you don’t mind another 3/4 mile. The trail reconnects to the Ubehebe Crater Rim Trail twice – once at mile 0.4 on the Rim Trail and again at mile 0.5. From here, the trail continues uninterrupted around the rim of the main crater.
The views from this section of the trail are why many people hike it. There are great views down into the crater as well as to the surrounding mountains (especially the Grapevine Mountains to the east).
The next junction is shortly before you arrive back at the parking area. A trail on the left descends into the crater. I did it; but realize that it’s not an easy hike! Still, it’s very fun to be able to say that you hiked into the very center of a volcano.
Return to the trailhead about mile 1.75 (closer to 2.4 if you opted to do Little Hebe, as well). The views from the trailhead are pretty good, too, so you can admire the crater one more time before driving back down into the valley or out to the Racetrack (if you have a vehicle that can handle mile upon mile of washboard, sharp rocks, etc.).