Mojave Trails National Monument Hike
The largest of Obama’s new monument designations clocks in at a modest 1.6 million acres! Mojave Trails National Monument is home to a variety of desert destinations, including colorful canyons, striking mountain ranges, sand dunes, and even fossil beds containing 550-million-year-old trilobite remnants! And adjacent to Route 66 is Amboy Crater, a 10,000-year-old cinder cone volcano rising 250 feet above the basalt lava plains surrounding it. Get up close to it on a spectacular 3-mile out-and-back hike. Traversing through the contrast of jagged black igneous rock and earth-toned desert in the labryinthine lava field, keep an eye out for threatened desert tortoises. Walking through fields of blooming desert sand verbena, desert sunflowers, and the aptly-named desert fivespot, stay on the trail towards the west side of the crater, where a heavy lava flow burst through the cinder cone and created a convenient path to the peak. On the way up, be sure to explore the crater center—1500 feet in diameter and home to a lava lake. Reach the summit via a sharply ascending climb, and ogle the panoramic desert vista of Mojave National Preserve to the north, the Bullion Mountains to the west, and the Bristol Mountain range to the northeast. If you’re comfortable with steep drop-offs, walk the mile-long ridge trail around the circumference of the crater before heading back the way you came. Congratulations on going big!
To get to Amboy Crater, take I-15 to I-40 east. Exit at Ludlow, and head east on Historic Route 66 (also called National Trails Hwy.). Turn right onto Crater Rd. and follow signs for the parking lot. If you prefer to pass by Joshua Tree, take I-10 to Hwy. 62 east, turn left onto Godwin Rd., right onto Amboy, left onto Route 66, and left onto Crater Rd. Dog-friendly!
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