Amboy Crater


Amboy Crater is located off Route 66 in the middle of the Mojave desert in one of the youngest volcanic fields in the United States. The crater is 250 feet high and 1,500 feet in diameter. The hike from the trailhead to the craters is approximately a 3-mile round trip. The trailhead offers parking, picnic tables, restroom facilities, and an overlook for viewing the crater. 


Amboy Crater is a fun place to explore for any van or RV nomad looking for a unique experience in the middle of the Mojave Desert halfway between Barstow and Needles off Historic Route 66.

It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973 for its visual and geological significance. There is a breach on the west side of the crater where basaltic lava poured out over a vast area of 24 square miles, containing lava lakes, collapsed lava tubes and sinks, spatter cones, and massive flows of basalt.

Hiking to the Crater

The hike from the trailhead to the crater is 3-mile roundtrip and is rated as moderate. The majority of the trail is flat until the climb up to the crater rim and is clearly marked.  Make sure you keep your eyes on the trail on the lookout for rattlesnakes sunbathing in the middle of the trail. Also, don’t attempt this hike without water. 

The trailhead is located about a tenth of a mile from Route 66 after the Amboy Crater sign. The trailhead offers ample parking for cars and vans, picnic tables, restroom facilities, and an overlook for viewing the crater. There’s also a small parking area right at the entrance where you can park if the trailhead parking is full. 

The Town of Amboy

The semi-ghost town of Amboy is located about a mile from Amboy Crater trailhead. There’s not much left in Amboy except a post officer, gas station, and the big Roy’s sign.

There’s an abandoned hotel where you can check out the small cottages and imagine what it used to look like in its glory days. Amboy was a big stopover for people traveling Route 66 thru the Mojave Desert until Interstate 40 (I-40) was built. 

The town is currently owned by the California-based fast-food chain Juan Pollo, Albert Okura.

It’s a privilege to have Amboy Crater for our enjoyment, so please practice Leave No Trace principles.


From Needles, CA, take I-40 west approx. 65 miles to Kelbaker Road. Exit southbound on Kelbaker Road and drive approx. 10 miles to National Trails Highway. Turn left on National Trails Highway and drive approx. 8 miles to Crater Road. Turn left onto Crater Road. An entrance kiosk will be on your left-hand side.

References and Other Adventures:

Kelso Sand Dunes

The Kelso Sand Dunes are a great place for any van or RV nomad to visit who wants to explore the vast Mojave desert. They are the largest dunes in the Mojave Desert and are protected by the Mojave National Preserve.  What makes these dunes different from others in the area is that no ATVs and motorcycles are allowed on the dunes. This means peace.

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Zzyzx Road

Zzyzx Road is a great out-of-the-ordinary adventure for any van or RV nomad driving to/from Las Vegas. ZZYZX is just west of Baker California on I-15 and is an old resort called Soda Springs. The resort is long gone, but remnants of it are still here and fun to explore. The California University System also has its Mojave Research Center here too, but that is closed to the public.

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