Amboy Crater the region’s most picturesque volcano

Now through early spring is the best time for roaming remote desert areas and examining the desert’s interesting and exposed geology. A drive to Amboy Crater offers both! The road trip takes you through the Mojave National Preserve and along historic Route 66 to the tiny town of Amboy, and its nearby volcanic crater.

Be sure to gas up, and bring your own food and beverages on this full-day trip. The crater hike follows a moderate 3-mile round-trip trail, but because of some uneven footing, it’s not recommended for small children.

Inactive volcanoes grace our landscape in all directions, but there are no others so picture perfect as Amboy Crater. Amboy Crater was active perhaps 10,000 years ago, and you can see much evidence of that activity in the 43-square-mile lava field that surrounds it. This is such a good lava field, the Mars Rover was tested here. The crater was formed by at least four eruptions, and once inside the rim you will find four coaxially nested cones.

From the signed trailhead and parking area, at about 670 feet, take the well-worn path southwest toward the crater. From here you might notice what looks like the trail on the north side of the crater, but ignore it; it’s steep and dangerous. Keep to the trail that heads southwest. Be sure to stay on the trail, because you are close to Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base.

Inside the crater, the walking gets a little more difficult as you skirt lava rocks on uneven terrain, but soon you will find yourself 300 feet higher up on the crater rim. You can walk around the rim, but it is slow going and a chore maneuvering around and on the lava rocks.

The crater is about 1,500 feet in diameter, and there are some wonderful views here. Look toward the north and you will see the Old Dad and Granite mountains in the Mojave National Preserve. To the east are the Old Women Mountains.

The crater is just off Route 66, which used to be the main east-to-west highway to or from California. Even earlier, in 1883, tracks were laid by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad from Needles, California, to the east and Barstow to the west. In that era of steam locomotives the railroad had to build water stations, which became the principal settlements of this still-remote area. It named them alphabetically, starting in Amboy and continuing east with Bolo, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner and Goffs. If you travel east along Route 66 you will pass these places, some abandoned. The tracks, now owned by BNSF Railway, carry several trains an hour.

When passenger trains were more common, travelers from the East and Midwest considered Amboy Crater a must-see landmark, for most had never seen a “real volcano.”

In the early 1900s a group of railroad workers from Bagdad, the town directly to the west, played a prank on train passengers. They brought dried plants and other easily flammable materials to the crater. As a passenger train was on its way by, the group lit a smoky fire. The passengers thought they were seeing an active volcano.

Years ago, after I published an article mentioning this episode, a fellow Southern Nevadan wrote to me that he and his buddies had perpetrated a similar hoax in the 1970s. They spent days lugging old tires up to the rim. Once their pile was big enough they set a timer, allowing them to depart and establish credible alibis. When the tires sent up copious amounts of black smoke, tourists and locals started to flee. Once the prank was discovered and the guilty parties revealed, they all received a stern warning. All in a good day’s fun, I say!

But don’t try this now, as the crater now is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which would not find the third time charming. I would expect heavy fines and jail time.

Deborah Wall’s book “Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 hikes in the Southwest” ($24.95, Imbrifex) is available on Amazon. She can be reached at deborabus@aol.com.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like