Sunday Hikes:  The Ubehebe Crater Trail

If you follow Scotty’s Castle Road north of the main junction of Death Valley National Park, after 33 miles you will arrive at Ubehebe Crater.  This is also where the paved road ends and if you have 4 wheel drive you can continue on to the Racetrack where you can see that mysterious occurrence of rocks that move by themselves.

However that is a story for another day.  On this fine day, along with fellow Bighornblog contributors Josh and Anya we were preparing to hike the Ubehebe Crater Trail. It was mid morning and being Death Valley, the temperature was rising quickly along with the sun in the blue sky scattered with wispy white clouds.

The Ubehebe Crater trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail that surrounds the namesake crater which is of volcanic origin.  The trail is dry black sand and only has 500 feet of elevation change.  This area is arid, treeless and bleak.  However, the views are expansive and the crater is impressive.  We went right which takes the elevation change head on.  After conquering the small incline, also to the right is the Little Ubehebe Crater Trail which adds .7 miles to make a total distance traveled to 2.2 miles.

We took the side trip around Little Ubehebe and rejoined the main trail.  On the opposite side of the main crater we stopped to rest and indulge in some Clif Bars.  Behind us was an impressive looking canyon.   We continued around the loop and quickly arrived back at the rental car and lamented our lack of 4 wheel drive.

Ubehebe Crater is a quick fun hike.  This area is very different than the Badwater Basin area and worth the drive up here.  Have you hiked this trail?  I’d love to hear your impressions of this area of Death Valley NP in the comments.


Odds and Ends from Death Valley NP…

I had a few odds and ends from our recent trip to Death Valley NP that I thought I would share.   I hope you enjoy the pictures and notes from each:


Ashford Mill was our first stop in Death Valley NP.   It was notable for that reason.   We were really excited to get out of the car.


We had an interesting encounter with a strangely friendly coyote on Hwy 178 in the southern portion of the park.   We stopped so we wouldn’t hit it, and it then tried to follow us down the road.   We joked that it was either Wile E. Coyote dazed from one of his crashes or more likely folks had been feeding him and he was now mostly tame.


Badwater Basin is a real highlight of Death Valley NP.   It is amazing how far out the salt flat extends.   The juxtaposition between the valley floor and the snowcapped Telescope Peak is breathtaking.


The Devils Golf Course is an odd feature very near Badwater Basin.   The sign says these features were formed by wind and rain.   They are surprisingly high, maybe 12-18 inches off of the ground.


Close up picture of the salt crystals at The Devils Golf Course.


This panoramic picture from Dante’s View doesn’t do the actual view justice.  Get up here at sunrise or sunset for amazing views.


The Ubehebe Crater area is a must see at Death Valley.   This series of volcanic craters dating back about 2000 years is a fun place to hike.   You can easily access each of the craters in this area by a series of trails.   I think this crater pictured is of Little Ubehebe Crater.   The largest crater (Ubehebe) is 1/2 a mile across and 500 feet deep.


The long road leaving away from Stovepipe Wells heading west.  

If you enjoyed this, please take a look at several of our “Sunday Hikes” features from our time in Death Valley NP.    Thank you!  rk