Friday, April 4, 2014

Hike 2014.019 -- Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark

Hiked Sunday, March 23. As mentioned previously, I've had a couple of busy weekends. This was the last of my hikes a few weeks ago, when I squeezed four "official" hikes in three days, and five hikes in five days. All short ones, of course, but it sure felt good to get some mileage under foot.

Amboy Crater is adjacent to Old Route 66. The BLM webpage with info on Amboy and a link for driving directions is here.

From the parking area, the crater rises as a symmetrical cone, but missing its top. It's definitely not the tallest peak in the area, and wouldn't be even if it did have its full cone.

But it is also larger than it may appear. Here, I've got some pictures that zoom on to the western end of the crater, where you can see some hikers on the rim, for a sense of scale. The crater, for example, is supposed to be nearly a mile in circumference.

It's somewhat over a mile from the parking area to the base of the crater floor, which makes it about 3 miles roundtrip, if you also circum-navigate the crater rim.

Along the way, you may (depending on season) see some wildflowers. Occasionally, you'll see a LOT of wildflowers. Other times, you'll see a lot of reptiles.

On this trip, I saw a fair number of wildflowers, and very few reptiles. No chuckwalla.

The site flyer (they had a small number of pamphlets in a box near the vault toilets) said wildflowers are visible in April in May, so I suppose it's possible more are coming? But it's been a dry year, so I'm not sure.

The hike to the crater always seems longer than it is. It's only three miles roundtrip, of course, and only supposed to be a little over a mile from the lot to the rim of the crater. So "longer" doesn't mean "long," but, still, "longer." I hope that made sense.

If not, just ignore that part, but do remember to bring water. Despite the short distance, especially once it starts getting warmer, the water will provide welcome relief.

Once at the crater rim base (on the west side), you have a bit of an incline to scale. The trail first brings you up to the crater "floor" level. Sand has been deposited into the crater by winds over the past 10,000 years or so, so there's a flat area inside. A couple of igneous dikes create the containment for the floor.

On that floor, folks often rearrange dark rocks atop the light floor to write out messages or build figures. On this day, some of the rocks had been rearranged to spell out "LBCC," which undoubtedly was the name of the school with the geology class walking around the crater in front of me. They arrived in four 15-passenger vans, though I did not see 60 students. Only saw about 20. Not sure where the rest were hiding.

The students provided a sense of scale to what I photog-raphed, and also provided unexpected clues to what I would encounter. For example, as one group walked along the rim, it looked like they were swatting around themselves, for no apparent reason. Later, when I got to where they were, I discovered that the ants were swarming out of a dark depression on the rim. Of course, winged ants usually don't sting, so there was no danger of serious pain involved. But they were flying so thick that it was hard to ignore them. When I walked past the area, I eventually broke into a jog, just to get away from them faster.

This was my four short hike of the weekend before last. Earlier that day, I walked Teutonia Peak (not yet blogged). The day before, I took a number of very short hikes that collectively qualified as a hike, all off of North Lakeshore Drive, in Lake Mead National Recreation Area (not yet blogged). And the day before that, I took a short return hike to the Calico Tanks in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I had hiked there a month or so previous, but forgot my camera. I still need to blog that one, too.

It's been a busy spell of hiking recently, but I like it that way. :D


  1. I remember Amboy Crater from when I was a little kid and my family would drive Route 66 to go visit my aunt in Oklahoma.

  2. That's extremely cool, Kay! I'm sure it would have been quite a sight for a kid crossing the country to see something like that sticking out in the desert.