Death Valley: Ubehebe Crater

HikeSnobs rate this: 3thumb

Location: 

Visited: April 13, 2014 & September 5, 2015

Description: A large volcanic crater that’s a half a mile wide

Length: 0 – 3 miles (depending on which trail you take)

Duration: 1-2 hours

Elevation: 500-700 feet deep

Terrain: Loose gravel

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, if you’re hiking to the bottom and back

Parking: Lot (37.010999, -117.454873)

Best time to go: Anytime. But if you plan on going to the bottom of the crater, do it when it’s not too hot.

Bring: Camera. If you plan on hiking the trails: water, sunscreen, light jacket (it may be windy and cold)


Just a short drive from Scotty’s Castle is a beautiful crater located in the northern region of Death Valley. Ubehebe is a maar volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. Steam created from hot magma and ground water caused an intense amount of pressure and explosions that left us what we see here today.

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The crater can be easily viewed from the parking area. If you explore further, there are trails that will reveal smaller craters and interesting geological erosion.

Some hiking options here:

The center of the crater: We attempted to tackle this hike our first time in the desert. The trail is an easy descent down to the crater floor. But Ubehebe is 600 feet deep, so the climb back was pretty difficult. The terrain is loose gravel so every two steps we took, we fell back a step. It was pretty exhausting 😅

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Ricardo making the trek down

Little Hebe Trail: From the parking lot, the trail head will start on your right side just past the Ubehebe information post. You’ll be able to spot a sign pointing you in the right direction. This is a 1 mile out and back trail along the western rim to a smaller crater. The terrain is loose gravel and the way up is fairly steep. You want to be careful with your footing here.

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We were able to tackle this hike the second time we were here. The wind was very strong we were literally hiking against the wind at some parts of the trail. While Little Hebe is not as impressive as its larger counterpart, it was pretty cool seeing the two craters side by side.

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The Rim Trail: If you continue past Little Hebe trail you will now be accessing the rim trail. With the heavy winds that day we opted to turn back once we reached Little Hebe Trail. The rim trail is 2 miles roundtrip from the parking lot and is said to have similar views to the Little Hebe. If you have the extra energy, definitely go for it!

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We had an amazing time exploring this natural wonder. If you make a trip to Death Valley you have to stop here. Ubehebe Crater is one of our favorite destinations in the desert. It’s not everyday you can say you climbed inside of a thousand year old crater.

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Until next time, Ubehebe!

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • Stay on the trail, the terrain is extremely loose. You can easily lose footing or traction here.
  • It gets pretty windy up near Little Hebe, bring a jacket!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

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