Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley is a much more impressive crater than I initially thought it would be. It’s about 1/2mi wide and 600ft deep. The really impressive part of the crater are the incredible colors as the hole gets deeper. The crater wasn’t created by a meteor, but rather a volcanic steam explosion that essentially blew the top off of this mountain sending pulverized rock and magma all over the surrounding landscape.
- Distance: 2 mi
- Type: Loop
- Time: 1-2hrs
- Elevation at trailhead: 2,600 feet
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 250ft
- Difficulty: Easy
- Crowd Factor: Moderate
- Best Time: Feb-April or October-November
- Permits/Fees: Death Valley Entry Fee: $35 per car
- Water: No
Directions to the Trail Head
The parking lot for Ubehebe Crater is one of the last places in the Northern part of Death Valley that is accessible without 4WD. There is a long packed dirt road to get there, which will be a slow bumpy ride in a normal car, but it is do-able.
It’s about an hour from Furnace Creek and 45mins from Stovepipe Wells. From either landmark, take the 190 north to the intersection with Scotty’s Castle Road. Turn onto Scotty’s Castle Toad and follow it for 33.4 miles. The more obvious road will continue right, but you are going left/straight on Racetrack Road for 5.5 miles over gravel to the crater.
Death Valley Park Fees
There is no entrance gate for Death Valley. Park entry fees can be paid at the ranger stations or at any of the self-pay facilities around the park.
- Individual (on foot or bicycle) – Good for 7 Days: $12
- Motorcycle – Good for 7 Days: $20
- Automobile with up to 4 people – Good for 7 Days: $25 April – October, $25 other months
- Death Valley Annual Pass – Good for 1 Year: $50
Recommended Hiking Gear
What To Expect Along The Trail
There really isn’t anything unexpected about this trail. It’s just a way to get up close and personal with the crater, which there are a few options for doing:
Option 1: Into the crater
From the parking lot there’s a very steep trail that leads directly down into the bottom of the crater. It’s a quick trip down if you’re sure-footed on the dirt path, and a much longer climb going 600ft straight up.
Option 2: Little Hebe Trail
Little Hebe is a much smaller crater to the west of Ubehebe. From the parking lot, you climb directly up the rim of Ubehebe to the right. Once at the top (270 ft up) you can see and also explore Little Hebe or continue around the rest of the rim.
Option 3: The Rim Trail
You can do this loop in either direction around the crater. The steepest part of the trail is to the right just past the parking lot (straight up 270ft), so deciding if you want to go up or down this hill will give you your starting direction.
Most of the rim is sandy and level and the views don’t change much as you walk around the crater. There are some really breathtaking views from the rim of the surrounding Panamint Mountains. You feel very isolated and small looking around this great expanse.
It was VERY windy when we visited since you’re at the top of the highest mountain surrounded by low-lying desert, while also made it pretty cold!