Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark

While visiting 29 Palms, plan a day trip to Amboy Crater and discover one of Mojave Trails National Monument’s most iconic natural, geological wonders!

Recognized for its visual and geological significance, Amboy Crater was first established as a National Natural Landmark in 1973 and is now part of the newly designated Mojave Trails National Monument. Located just south of the iconic Route 66, Amboy Crater is one of Mojave Trails’ most popular sites, offering a unique opportunity to experience and explore one of the youngest volcanic fields in the U.S.

Formed of ash and cinder, Amboy Crater stands at 250-feet tall and 1,500-feet in diameter and sits in stunning contrast to the surrounding desert wilderness. Visitors who hike the 3-mile round-trip trail up and into this stunningly symmetrical volcanic cinder cone are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding lava field and the vast Mojave Desert.

In recent years as Amboy Crater has seen increased visitation, the trail has become considered one of the best hikes in southern California and has also become a hotspot for stargazing enthusiasts and astrophotographers who consider it one of the best and darkest places in southern California to observe the night sky. In 2020, Amboy Crater earned another very special designation by being added to the National Recreation Trails System, honoring the outstanding recreational opportunities and public access the trail offers!

Easily accessible off Route 66, the Amboy Crater day-use trailhead area includes an ADA accessible scenic observation point, an interpretive kiosk, picnic tables, shade ramadas, and vault toilet restrooms. To hike out and back, and to enjoy the scenic drive to and from 29 Palms, plan to give yourself a half-day to visit Amboy Crater.

Distance from downtown 29 Palms to Amboy Crater:


Best time of year to visit Amboy Crater:

Late fall through early spring

Important safety tips:

-Bring lots of water! We can’t emphasize this enough, especially for this remote hike. Carry 1 gallon per person and turn around when you’re down to half of your water supply. This is a 3-mile round trip hike and trust us – you’ll want as much water for the 1.5-mile hike back as you did on the hike out to the crater, especially as the temperatures rise throughout the day.

-Always check the forecast before you plan your visit and do not attempt this hike in the summer months when temperatures are dangerously high. Remember you are about to hike across a lava field where the dark-colored lava rock intensifies the sunlight and heat.

-Be sure to have a full tank of gas when you leave 29 Palms and make sure you’ve checked your tire air pressure, engine oil, and coolant as you won’t find a service station until you’ve reached the town of Amboy.

-Hats, sunscreen, and loose layers are a must as there is no shade along this trail. Good quality hiking shoes are also a must as the footing is loose, especially as you climb up the side of the crater.

-Before pushing off for this day trip, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. That could be a close friend or family member or the front desk staff at your hotel. If you forget and arrive at the parking lot trailhead, leave a note on your dashboard.

Official Bureau of Land Management Resources:

Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark

Mojave Trails National Monument

Mojave Trails National Monument Interactive Map / PDF Map

Always follow the Leave No Trace principles:

-Plan Ahead and Prepare
-Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
-Dispose of Waste Properly
-Leave What You Find
-Minimize Campfire Impacts
-Respect Wildlife
-Be Considerate of Other Visitors

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: