National Park Mystery Spot 2 Revealed: This Is One Very Big Basket!

Ubehebe Crater is maar-velous. Bob Janiskee photo.

We gave you these six clues to identify National Park Mystery Spot 2:

Big boom

Big basket

Fourth planet from the sun

You walk around, I’ll walk in

Hold on to your hat

A vain, overly dramatic, confrontational female singer

Were you able to identify Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park?

Don’t feel too badly if you didn’t. Even people who have visited Ubehebe (pronounced YOU-bee-HEE-bee) might have trouble working with clues like these. That doesn’t mean that the quiz is unfair. It just means that it isn’t a gimmee.

Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater situated at the northern end of the Cottonwood Mountains in the far northern end of Death Valley National Park. A paved spur road off CA 190 takes you there, so it’s very accessible. Lots of people stop by to see Ubehebe before or after they visit Scotty’s Castle, which is only a short drive away. There is convenient parking on the north rim of the crater, spectacular scenery (especially at sunrise or sunset), and several intriguing trails.

Around 2,000 to 6,000 years ago (estimates vary by thousands of years), magma that upwelled near the surface here flashed groundwater into steam and created a gigantic steam explosion called a hydrovolcanic or phreatic eruption (or a “big boom,” if you will). Pulverized rock and larger debris were scattered over a fairly large area, leaving a crater nearly a half-mile wide and more than 500 feet deep.

Native Americans named the crater Ubehebe, which means “big basket in the rock.” Geologists, however, call a hydrovolcanic eruption pit a maar. Ubehebe Crater is one of several maars in the area. The “fourth rock from the sun” is the planet Mars, and Mars is close enough to maars to provide a clue. Or not.

Would you like to go for a hike at Ubehebe? OK; basically, you can either circumnavigate the rim (walk all the way around the crater) or you can hike down to the bottom. If you walk to the bottom ("walk in," that is), remember that the walk back up to the rim can be very taxing. If you hike the rim trail ("walk around," that is) remember to hang on to your hat. Winds at Ubehebe commonly clock in at 50 miles per hour, and that’s 10 mph above gale force.

BTW, a vain, overly dramatic, confrontational female singer is a diva (pronounced DEE-vuh) and the four letter code for Death Valley National Park is DEVA. Close enough?


I have never answered a quiz here, but I wished that I had. I would have gotten it correct. This is one awsome site in person.

@gandanks: Thanks for the kind remarks. We'll post the next Mystery Spot quiz on Wednesday, September 23. Get there early and maybe you'll be the first to solve it. Remember, we post a quiz of one sort or another every Wednesday. September has a pretty good lineup. September 2nd will feature a quiz on the theme of "Fishing," September 9 will present you with a be a mystery photo to solve, September 16 will offer a quiz on "Camping," September 23 is that mystery spot quiz I just mentioned, and we'll wrap up September with another "traditional" quiz. The quizmeister hasn't chosen a theme for that one yet.

I'm infuriated to be reading about this now. I drove by Scotty's Castle many times and would have loved to visit this place had I known about it. Now I live on the east coast!

P.S. Terrible "puuns" in that quizz by the way (if that's what you can call them).

My condolences, Green Envy. But look on the bright side. You've got a great reason to revisit Death Valley! :o) BTW, I'm afraid that puuns (or whatever) are in the hard wiring. I suggest that you just try to ignore them like everybody else does.