Ubehebe Crater, Ubehebe Crater Parking Area, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater - 2.15 miles
Ubehebe Crater Parking Area
|Round-Trip Length:||2.15 miles (includes travel around both crater rims)|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,595' - 2,595' (2,883' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+288' net elevation gain (+582' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Ubehebe Crater - 2.15 Miles Round-Trip
The Ubehebe and Little Hebe craters are young by geologic standards - perhaps only 2,000 years old. Rising magma - or hot molten rock - beneath the surface turns ground water to steam. Intense steam pressure builds until the superheated combination of steam and rock explodes, creating craters like the ones we see today.
The initial explosion is thought to have spewed shattered rock over 6 square miles, with enough force to embed some fragments 150' deep. Ubehebe Crater is the largest of many similar explosion-craters in Death Valley, measuring 1/2 mile across and nearly 500' deep.
A short walk around and into these craters reminds us that Death Valley is still very much alive beneath the surface. The main trail circles the larger Ubehebe Crater, with an adjacent loop around Little Hebe Crater; the combination forms a short figure-eight course with spectacular panoramas of Death Valley, the Grapevine Mountains and Last Chance Range.
Mild terrain invites off-trail exploration of minor outlying craters and a contrasting landscape of blackened volcanic debris, desert scrub and brightly colored mountain ranges.
Those eager to reach the main crater bottom will travel north (left) .15 miles from the trailhead to an unmarked but obvious spur leading straight down to it. Tread cautiously on the rapid 500' drop through loose, uneven terrain.
The following description begins at the main parking area and follows a counter-clockwise, figure-eight course atop the rims of Ubehebe and Little Hebe Crater:
From the trailhead, bear right (south) up the main crater rim. The trail rises sharply to a crest (.3 miles : 2,775') with useful perspective and spectacular views of the volcanic vicinity. Continue counter-clockwise on the main rim to the Little Hebe Crater spur (.45 miles : 2,788').
Here a .35 mile path circles its adjacent rim and rejoins the main rim trail (.8 miles). Once back you'll climb to the trail's highest point (.95 miles : 2,883'), then undulate mildly around the main rim with little difficulty back to the parking area (2.15 miles).
- N37 00.637 W117 27.300 — Ubehebe Trailhead
- N37 00.407 W117 27.270 — .3 miles : 1st hill crest on main crater rim
- N37 00.317 W117 27.146 — .45 miles : Bear left for Little Hebe Crater loop
- N37 00.395 W117 26.873 — 1.2 miles : Mid point around Ubehebe Crater Rim
- N37 00.761 W117 27.258 — 2 miles : Spur trail for crater bottom
- The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe of Death Valley call the Ubehebe Crater Wosa, or Coyote's Burden Basket - the place from which humans emerged to spread in four directions across the land.
- Crater rims are steep, loose and unstable. Maintain a sensible distance from cliff edges, especially when wet.
- The Ubehebe Crater Trailhead is located en route to the Racetrack, making it convenient to reach and thoroughly enjoy each in a single day.
Directions to Trailhead
The Ubehebe Crater Parking Area is located 5.7 miles from the Grapevine Entrance Station on Ubehebe Crater Road. Follow signs northwest of the entrance station to the parking area cul de sac.
Death Valley National Park
P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328