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    Death Valley

    National Park CA,NV

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  • EXTREME SUMMER HEAT

    Expect high temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees F on your summer visit to Death Valley. Heat related illness is a real possibility. Drink plenty of water and carry extra. Avoid activity in the heat. Travel prepared to survive. Watch for signs of trouble. More »

  • Zabriskie Point Rehab Project Delayed Until Further Notice

    The popular vista site Zabriskie Point will be closed for major repairs over the 2014/2015 winter and spring seasons, but the exact date has not been determined. The site will remain open until further notice.

Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater
Ubehebe Crater was created by a powerful volcanic steam explosion.
 

Ubehebe Crater
Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across. We often hear mistakenly that "Ubehebe" means "big basket", but the Paiute name Ubehebe was first applied to the 5,678 ft. Ubehebe Peak, 24 miles southwest of the crater. How the name Ubehebe became associated with the crater is not known. To the Timbisha Shoshone Indians, the crater has been known as "Tem-pin-tta- Wo’sah", meaning Coyote’s Basket. Although applying this translation to the word Ubehebe has produced a great deal of confusion, but comparing the crater to a basket is appropriate.

Maar Volcanoes
How did these craters originate? They are known as maar volcanoes, created by steam and gas explosions when hot magma rising up from the depths reached ground water. The intense heat flashed the water into steam which expanded until the pressure was released as a tremendous explosion.The western cluster of Maar volcanoes was the first to form, then the southern cluster, followed by Ubehebe—the largest of them all—possibly as recently as 300 years ago.

Cinder Fields
Cinders from these explosions cover much of the surrounding area. This material is very evident as you drive up the hill to the parking area. Some cinders can even be seen on the dry bed of ancient Lake Rogers on the valley floor north of the craters. The cinders covering most of the area came from Ubehebe and are as much as 150 feet thick at the crater rim, decreasing in depth radially outward from there. The colorful layers in the crater’s eastern wall are fanglomerates through which the explosion occurred. Fanglomerate is an alluvial fan deposit hardened into rock. Sandstone and conglomerate, loosely cemented together by calcite make up this conglomerate and most of the pieces of rock are either volcanic or metamorphic.
Water erosion created the deep gullies that you see on the crater’s east side. The pink and brown mud flat at the bottom of the crater is the site of many short-lived lakes.

Other Craters
Ubehebe is not the only crater found in this part of Death Valley. There are clusters of craters to the south and west of Ubehebe. You can walk from the sign at Ubehebe Crater, around the rim to the west and over to Little Hebe Crater, observing various smaller craters along the way. Though smaller, Little Hebe appears to be even younger than Ubehebe as one looks at its almost uneroded rim. You can return to the parking lot the way you came or make it a loop hike by following the rim of Ubehebe on around to your starting point.

 

Exploring Ubehebe
Ubehebe Crater is easily viewed from the parking area on its rim, but further exploration will reveal smaller craters and interesting erosion.

  • Difficulty: Walking to the bottom of the main crater is easy; however, the trip back up can be exhausting. Walking around the rim is moderately difficult due to the initial climb and loose footing.
  • Distance: The walk around the rim of Ubehebe Crater is about 1½ mile round-trip. This route leads past several smaller craters, including Little Hebe.
  • Safety: Please stay on the trail since the crater rim and nearby gullies are composed of very loose material making them unstable and dangerous.

Did You Know?

Death Valley is a land of little rain

Rainfall in Death Valley averages less than 2 inches a year. There have been some years of no recorded rainfall at all! More...