Total Distance: 2.00 mi.
Trail Type: Loop
Net Elevation Gain: 276 ft.
Hiking time: about an hour
Ubehebe Crater is is a 1/2 mile wide hole created by a maar volcano. Unlike an asteroid crater or a volcanic eruption, maar volcanoes are created by steam and gas explosions. As hot magma rises to the surface of the earth it comes into contact with ground water. The hot magma flash boils the water creating steam that expands until it reaches the point of explosion, blasting the earth out of its way resulting in a crater.
Death Valley National Park contains more than one of these maar volcanoes and this particular hike will let you experience Ubehebe and it’s neighbor Little Hebe. While this hike is not very long the initial incline coupled with the loose gravel path can make the start of your journey slow going.
Once you’ve made the initial climb be sure to stay on the trail and be careful along the edges of the crater as some areas may be unstable. The loop features views the inside of the crater itself, the surrounding cinder fields as well as the Panamint Mountains. If you’re feeling ambitious you can also hike down into the crater itself, but make sure you have the stamina for the climb back out.
As with all hikes make sure to bring water and sun protection. This trail is completely exposed with little to no shade to block out the sun. You might also find that the temperatures at Ubehebe are a little cooler than other parts of Death Valley so have an extra layer in your car just in case.
Since Ubehebe is a ways away from other more populated parts of the park you will most likely have a quiet hike. If you drive a high clearance 4×4 you can also take a side trip to check out the strange moving rocks at The Racetrack.