Amboy Crater

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Amboy Crater
Amboy Crater, as viewed from the east
Highest point
Elevation 984 ft (300 m) [1]
Prominence 250 ft (76 m) [2]
Coordinates 34°32′38″N 115°47′28″W / 34.5438831°N 115.7911091°W / 34.5438831; -115.7911091Coordinates: 34°32′38″N 115°47′28″W / 34.5438831°N 115.7911091°W / 34.5438831; -115.7911091[3]
Location San Bernardino County, California, US
Topo map USGS Amboy Crater
Mountain type Cinder cone[2]
Last eruption About 10,000 Years Ago[4]
Easiest route Trail[5][6]
Designated May 1973
Interior of Amboy Crater showing a lava lake and the distant breach in the cinder cone rim.
Interior of Amboy Crater from near breach showing lava lakes.

Amboy Crater and Lava Field is an extinct North American cinder cone type of volcano that rises above a 70-square-kilometer (27 sq mi) lava field in southern California.[7] They are located in the Mojave Desert equidistant and about 75 miles (120 km) between Barstow to the west and Needles to the east, and 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southwest of historic U.S. Route 66, near the town of Amboy, California in San Bernardino County, California. Amboy Crater and Lava Field were designated the "Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark" in May, 1973.[2][8]

Amboy Crater at dusk


The Amboy Crater's location is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southwest of the town of Amboy and the Route 66-National Trails Highway. The Bullion Mountains are to the west, and Bristol Mountains to the northeast.[9]


This Cinder cone crater is estimated to be 79,000 years old (+/- 5,000 years) [10][11] and was formed in layers of mostly vesicular pahoehoe - during the Pleistocene geological period. The interior has a lava lake. Lava flows as old as Amboy Crater itself blanket the surrounding area.

The crater is 944 ft (288 m) above sea level, about 250 ft (76 m) above the surrounding basalt lava plains. The scenic and solitary Amboy Crater was a popular sight and stop for travelers on U.S. Route 66 in California before the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973. Other than a stretch of U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico, Amboy Crater was one of few extinct volcanoes along the entire route, so generations of U.S. Route 66 travelers from the 1920s through the 1960s could boast that they had climbed a real volcano. Visits decreased after I-40 opened, but have increased in recent years with the nearby Mitchell Caverns, Mojave National Preserve, and renewed historical tourism interest in "old Route 66."


The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recommends using the western Cone Trail to reach the volcano peak's rim, a steep and rocky hiking trail. The trailhead is at the Amboy Crater day use parking area, along with shaded and open picnic tables, and public restrooms.[12] Regular desert precautions apply here: being alert for rattlesnakes and old military explosives, and having a hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and abundant drinking water. Educational and organized groups are advised to contact the BLM before heading out to Amboy Crater.[9][13]

BLM data[edit]

According to the Bureau of Land Management national landmark plaque,[14] the last eruption of the Amboy volcano was as recently as 500 years ago.[9] However, more recent studies show the volcano and surrounding lava field formed in the late Pleistocene era.[11]


The desert around Amboy Crater was featured on the cover art of the 2008 Rush album Snakes & Arrows Live.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amboy, California". VolcanoWorld. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  2. ^ a b c "Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark". Needles Field Office. Bureau of Land Management. 2008-04-22. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  3. ^ "Amboy Crater". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2014-12-28. 
  4. ^ "Amboy Crater" (PDF). BLM/CA/GI-2000/014+8322 REV. 6/07. Bureau of Land Management. June 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  5. ^ McKinney, John (2006-03-31). California's Desert Parks: A Day Hiker's Guide. Wilderness Press. pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0-89997-389-0. 
  6. ^ Massey, Peter (2006-04-26). Backcountry Adventures Southern California: The Ultimate Guide to the Backcountry for anyone with a Sport Utility Vehicle. Adler Publishing. pp. 475–477. ISBN 978-1-930193-26-0. 
  7. ^ accessed 7//2010
  8. ^ "National Natural Landmark Summary". National Park Service. February 5, 2004. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  9. ^ a b c . accessed 7/7/2010
  10. ^ "Cosmogenic 36Cl ages of Quaternary basalt flows in the Mojave Desert, California, USA". Geomorphology 53: 199–208. doi:10.1016/S0169-555X(02)00328-8. 
  11. ^ a b . accessed 3/25/2013
  12. ^ . accessed 7/7/2010
  13. ^ BLM Needles Field Office: telephone number - 1 760 326 7000 (to ensure adequate group parking availability)
  14. ^ . accessed 3/25/2013

Sources/external links[edit]