The legendary Route 66 often conjures imagery of neon signs for diners, a plethora of tourist traps, and gas stations. Something that perhaps doesn’t spring to mind is a volcano. But in fact there is a volcano right off of the famed Mother Road, and you can hike into it.
The town of Amboy is most notably known for its iconic Roy’s sign (which was recently restored) but it is also home to a geological marvel, the aptly named Amboy Crater. When you hear “crater” you often think of something falling from the sky to earth to create it, but here, the crater refers to the cinder cone of an ancient volcano, with sprawling lava rock surrounding it.
On a very windy Sunday, Patrick and I trekked along the winding mile long path to the crater, which stands at 250 feet high and 1500 feet wide. We ventured into the crater, then climbed up to the rim and walked along it, which is another one mile hike.
In 1959 the Amboy Crater served as the entrance to the center of the earth, in the film adaptation of Jules Vern’s story Journey to the Center of the Earth (currently available to stream on Disney+). Later, in 1973, the crater became a National Natural Landmark. Its unique lava rock surface makes it otherworldly, and was even used for testing the Mars rovers.
Our main reason for visiting the area near the crater is Patrick and I are intermittently traveling the full stretch of Route 66 through California, and eventually plan to bring it all together in a blog post sharing the various highlights. We still have several sections to visit but I do hope to share it within the year.
Climb into the Amboy Crater, located in the small town of Amboy. Typing “Amboy Crater” into Google will give you the location and directions. As the crater is located within the Mojave Desert, so it gets quite hot, and the hike is recommended to be done between October and April. For more detailed information, please visit the Amboy Crater page on the Bureau of Land Management website.
An iconic stop along Route 66, Amboy is experiencing a bit of a revival, with more to come in the future. To learn more about Amboy visit their website!