Pisgah and Amboy Craters, on Old Route 66


After you leave Barstow on Interstate 40, you have several opportunities to exit the freeway, and onto a very old and poorly maintained stretch of old US Route 66. I jumped off at Minneola (exit 18).  The old highway bumps alongside I-40 for more than 30 miles, before turning south at Ludlow.

Before you get there, you’ll notice a large volcanic crater off to the right.

A side trip out to the Pisgah Crater may tempt you, but don’t waste your time.  Although a dirt road runs out to it, the crater itself is privately owned and mined by a company that uses the crater as a source for gravel.  A gate will keep you from getting closer than where I was standing, when I took the above picture.

You should probably fill up your tank in Ludlow, no matter how much it costs.  I paid $2.99/gallon here in April, 2005 (which at the time was a pretty steep price).  But it was worth it, since the gas station at Amboy was closed, and there were no other services until the other side of Joshua Tree National Park.

Continue your drive past Ludlow, where Old 66 departs from the freeway and turns southeast.  The road quality is slightly better between Ludlow and Amboy.

Just before you arrive in the tiny town of Amboy, you will spot its namesake crater off to the right.  Unlike Pisgah, the Amboy Crater is on public BLM land, so you’re free to walk to it, over it, and into it, if you want.  A road takes you part of the way, but the parking lot and trailhead are discouragingly far from the crater itself.  I chose to take a picture and move on.


If you walk out to the crater, remember that the desert plays tricks on you, and the hike may be farther than it looks.  Be sure you take a bottle of water, even if it’s not terribly hot.  Also, there’s no definite trail between the crater and parking lot, so you might have a hard time figuring out the return trip.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.  I spent more time in this area during the Superbloom Trip of 2016.

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