Ubehebe Crater is a huge volcanic crater with colorful walls which was created when hot magma came into contact with groundwater and thus resulted in a steam and gas explosion (also known as a Maar volcano). Difficulties encountered on the area hikes include staying safely away from the cliff edges on the Crater Rim hike, using extra energy and effort to climb out of the bottom of the crater on the Crater Floor hike, and frequently contending with fierce winds. A Google Earth map of the Crater Rim hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for Little Hebe Crater are 37° 0.255'N, 117° 27.116'W. GPS coordinates for Crater BM are 36° 59.570'N, 117° 26.490'W.
Although Ubehebe Crater is mainly a tourist destination where park visitors stop in the parking lot to take photographs of the beautiful crater, there are also some good hiking options. Tourists usually combine a visit to Ubehebe Crater with a tour of Scotty's Castle. And that makes for a great and memorable day in Death Valley, as our groups have done that combo many times through the years. As far as hiking, there are three main options. The first option is the Crater Rim hike. This hike is about 2 1/2 miles long as it circles around the entire top of Ubehebe Crater. It is best to do this hike counter-clockwise, as that starts out with the steep portion and seems to provide the overall best views in the direction you will be facing while hiking. At the top of the steep portion, take the time to visit Little Hebe Crater, which is a perfectly formed and intact circular, smaller crater. There are also several older craters which you will pass by in the area which have partially eroded rims. Upon exploring Little Hebe Crater, you can rejoin the Crater Rim trail and circle along the edge of Ubehebe Crater while enjoying various viewpoints looking down. Through this area, make sure to keep a close eye on children and encourage them to stay away from the edge. I do know of one person who sustained a broken leg in this area due to a fall near the crater rim. The Crater Rim trail ends up circling all the way back to the parking lot. The second option for a hike is the Crater Floor hike. There appear to be two main use trails which drop down to the bottom of Ubehebe Crater -- one that is shorter but steeper and one that is longer with a gentler grade. About 475 feet in elevation is dropped when hiking from the parking lot (2,600 feet) down to the crater floor (2,125 feet). That may not sound like a whole lot, but it almost requires double the effort in order to hike back out because there is so much loose volcanic gravel on the steep trail. It is definitely worth it and recommended to hike to the crater floor if possible because the views of the crater walls are outstanding. There are also sections of cracked mud and plant growth to check out on the crater floor. The third option for a hike is to hike up to Crater BM, which is an officially named benchmark peak. This hike is almost 2 miles each way from the parking lot with an elevation gain of 850 feet. I have never done this hike but surely there are some great views to be enjoyed from Crater BM of the surrounding area. One other idea that I thought of for a hike out of this area would be to hike to Marble BM, located high in the Last Chance Range. A hike to Marble BM would be a true adventure hike with an elevation gain of close to 5,000 feet and some difficult route finding necessary along the ridge up. Most hikers who access Marble BM do it from the west side in Saline Valley, but in theory it could be accessed from the east side as well when parking at Ubehebe Crater parking lot. For this particular trip report that I am sharing, a majority of the pictures were taken to showcase the Crater Rim hike and a few others are included of the Crater Floor hike. Our most recent Crater Rim hike as documented here took place on February 20, 2014.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT