Amboy Crater | Mojave Trails National Monument
Amboy, CA | 02/14/20 | 3.94 miles | 381′ gain
Eventually Kyle convinced me to leave my new favorite place (Joshua Tree National Park) and do a nearby hike he’d done 10 years prior while stationed at Twentynine Palms. We woke up early to make the 1.5 hour drive from our hotel in Yucca Valley to Amboy Crater. We could see the crater from the highway as we drove in, although it looked really small from that far away.
From the trailhead, Amboy Crater looked a little bigger, though it’s still only 250′ high and 1,500′ in diameter. Its sides are made of ash and cinders and the surrounding landscape is strewn with volcanic rock. I had never walked through a volcanic landscape before so I was really excited to head out!
The trail cuts directly across the volcanic field and wraps around the west (right) side of the crater, where there is a natural opening. Since the ground is mostly rock, the trail builders laid out a path boundary with additional rocks that you can see in the above photo. Otherwise the trail would be difficult to distinguish.
Once we reached the base of the crater, the trail became much steeper as we climbed into the crater itself.
It’s hard to see how big the crater is from the bottom since there are a number of ridges that prevent you from seeing the full area, so we really wanted to get up on the rim.
From the bottom, there are a number of trails that lead up to the rim (you can see them in the below picture). We picked one and made a very steep ascent up the cinders to the top.
The views were amazing. Not only could we see into the crater, but we could see the mountains and volcanic materials surrounding us in all directions.
We spent quite a long time on the rim, eventually walking along its entire length before dropping back down into the crater. Somehow we made it up way faster than we expected, so we had some extra time to kill before lunch. And we even had the entire crater to ourselves!
After taking way too many pictures, we slowly made our way back to the trailhead. We drove back to Twentynine Palms and met up with Kyle’s old Major (now a Colonel) and his wife for lunch on base. Kyle was so excited to show me around base so we spent a good amount of time checking out his old stomping grounds before heading back to Joshua Tree National Park for some afternoon hiking.