Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater is a volcanic crater located near Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley National Park in California. The crater is approximately 600 deep and one half mile across and a popular spot for visitors in the park. The crater is created by a Maar Volcano, which is a shallow volcano caused when groundwater comes in contact with volcanic magma.

Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California
Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park, California

The crater was originally known as “Tem-pin-tta- Wo’sah” from the Timbisha Shoshone Indian phrase for Coyote’s Basket. At some point, the crater was renamed to “Ubehebe” which is the name of a near by mountain and comes from the Paiute Indian name for “Big Basket”. Regardless of the name, the crater does remind one of a basket in the earth.

A Panorama looking from Ubehebe Crater overlooking the cinder fields, Death Valley National Park
A Panorama looking from Ubehebe Crater overlooking the cinder fields, Death Valley National Park

The road into Ubehebe serves as the starting points to the Race Track Valley Road, Teakettle Junction and Hunter Mountain Road.

Hiking

There are a few separate hiking opportunities while exploring the crater.

The crater rim trail, which is about 1.5 miles long, circumnavigates the crater and allows access to Little Hebe crater. The trail has some slight elevation gain, however could be more difficult to hikes with balance issue due to the unstable soil.

There is also a trail down the the bottom of the crater. This is a short trail and very easy going down. The difficulty is hiking back up the 600 feet elevation lost on the way down, in loose volcanic soil.

Ubehebe Crater Trail Map

References

Hole in the Wall Campground

Hole in the Wall campground is found deep in the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, California. The Campground is a popular location for hikers, star gazers and explorers of the Old Mojave Road.

The Ring Trail is a short fun little hike in the Mojave National Preserve.
The Ring Trail is a short fun little hike near Hole in the Wall Campground

The campground is nestled up against a small hillside and offers access to the Ring Trail which is a short and very fun hike around a mesa of sharp sculpted volcanic rock. The Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center is located nearby and offers a book store, bathrooms and ranger programs. The campsites are suitable for RV’s, trailer and tent camping and does have 2 sites dedicated for walk in camping.

The campground is at a reasonable higher elevation, which offers mild weather in the spring and falls months. Winter will be cold and obviously the summer months will allow a visitor to experience the harsh, hot, arid Mojave.

Directions


From I-40: Exit Essex Road and drive north 10 miles to the junction with Black Canyon Road. Hole-in-the-Wall is 10 miles north on Black Canyon Road.

Campground Summary

Campground NameHole in the Wall Campground
Latitude, Longitude35.0484172,-115.3963526
Sites35
Elevation4,400 ft
AmenitiesPit toilets, trash receptacles, fire rings, picnic tables; no utility hookups. Firewood is not available in the park.

Hole in the Wall Campground Map

Resources

Afton Canyon Campground

The Afton Canyon Campground offer amazing access and camping for the Old Mojave Road, surroundings areas of the Mojave. The dry, desert campground is found in the heart of the Mojave desert at 1640 feet in elevation and  is a great place for birding and wildlife due to close proximity to the Mojave River which is briefly above ground in this area.

Afton Canyon Campground, Mojave, CA
Afton Canyon Campground, Mojave, CA

Afton Canyon Campgrounds features 22 large sites which all include tables with sun shades, BBQ and fire pits.  The campground does offer pit toilets and no RV Facilities. The camp sites are dispersed nicely, so you are not going to be too crowded when staying here.

Afton Canyon is commonly referred to as the “The Grand Canyon of the Mojave” due to its diverse geology and impressive rock formations. There are a view slot canyons to explore and even a buried rail road car. Afton Canyon is one of the few places in the Mojave where surface water can be found. Like many deserts, this water offers an oasis which supports the local wild life and plant populations.

Due to the location severe weather, poisonous snakes and flash floods are all possible here.  

This campsite is an nice spot for astronomers to view the dark night skys.

Campsites are provided first come first serve.

Afton Canyon is managed by the BLM.

Campground Summary

Campground NameAfton Canyon Campground
Latitude, Longitude35.038306, -116.383813
AddressAfton Rd, Baker, CA 92309
Number of Sites19
Elevation3800
ReservationsNo
AmenitiesCampsite Tables, Drinking Water, Fire Pit, Fire Rings
Grills, Group Camping, Pets OK, Picnic Tables, Vault Toilets
Webistehttps://www.blm.gov/visit/afton-canyon

Afton Canyon Campground Trail Map

Silver Star Mine

The Silver Star Mine is a small mine site located off of the Zinc Mountain Road in San Bernardino County, California. The site rests at 4931 feet above sea level in the Ivanpah montains. The lonely site features a small humble cabin the miners used to survive and beat the heat. There is also a wrecked automobile near at the site, which has long since given up the battle against rust.

Silver Star Mine Cabin
Silver Star Mine Cabin

There is not much information available for this location on the Internet and hopefully I will be able to find some eventually. The mine site is also know as the Lucky Lode deposits. The route into the area is reasonably passable and should be suitable for most cars, provided the driver is used to operating on the back roads of the desert.

Silver Star Mine
Silver Star Mine rusted out auto

Some places claim that this mine produced lead, copper and zinc. The fact that this mine is found just off of Zinc Mountain Road offers some credence to a zinc mine. Other online sources claim this is a tungsten mine. A shallow mine shaft is located near the cabin. The shaft contains an old wooden ladder used by the miners and appears to be filled in, collapsed, or suspended after about 20 feet of workings.

Silver Star Mine Shaft
Silver Star Mine Shaft with ladder.

This stark hole in the ground reminds us what a challenges the life of a miner must endure. Hot, dry deserts, narrow, dark tunnels in a hostile landscape.

Silver Star Mine Trail Map

Resources

Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)

Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)
Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)

Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata), also known as Coyote Gourd, is a flowering plant common in the desert southwest and known to produce spherical yellow – green melons. The vine like plant is commonly found is loose, sandy or gravely, dry, well drained soil which is common in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and exclusively in Washington County, Utah. The primary characteristic is the growth of a green melon or gourd which is quite startling when you first see them in the hot desert climates.

Sereno Watson (December 1, 1826 in East Windsor Hill, Connecticut - March 9, 1892 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American botanist
Sereno Watson (December 1, 1826 in East Windsor Hill, Connecticut – March 9, 1892 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American botanist

The gourd was first described in 1876 by Sereno Waston who was a Yale graduate with a degree in Biology, The Coyote Melon features a sprawling stiff vine with rough, stiff-haired stems and leaves. Cucurbita palmata produces a large yellow bell shaped flower, while the melon itself is smooth in appearance. The striped yellow – green colored gourd is known to be quite hard, however, also thin when mature. The melons are very bitter and not edible. This hearty planet can survive the harsh desert landscape through its use of a large and hearty tap root. This root system can extend several feet into the dry soil to supply the plant with nutrients and water required for survival.

The Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata) is extremely fibrous and although not edible to humans is known to be on the coyotes diet during the fall, hence its name. It is quite common to find the seeds of this plant in coytoe scat during the fall months.

Despite the fibrous melon being inedible by man, the native american tribes were known to consume the ground seeds of this plant. Additionally, they used the dried gourds as rattles in various dances and other ceremonies. They also utilized the plant was as soap for cleaning.

Resources