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Killbourne Hole Volcanic Crater

Kilbourne Hole, one of the most interesting geological formations in the Las Cruces–El Paso area, is a volcanic maar formed from a 24,000–yr old volcanic explosion.

If you're a rock hound, you'll love Kilbourne Hole. It's treasure trove of multiple textures and colors of volcanic rock.

Kilbourne Hole is quite frankly in the middle of nowhere, some 30 miles southwest of Las Cruces in the Chihuahua desert. There is no cell phone service (last I checked). If you have a high clearance or 4WD vehicle, please let us know and help us carpool. Kilbourne Hole is accessible by 2WD vehicle but we will need to mind sandy spots. Because of this, it is important your RSVP is accurate. Please do not show up without RSVPing, and please do not say you are coming and no show.

DISTANCE is ~8 mi round-trip, around the crater, and probably dive into the center of the crater too. And about 5 miles walking across the bottom.

ELEVATION GAIN is the hole itself is some 800 feet deep. Walking around the crater, the elevation change is negligible.

FEES: None. Of course, if you carpool, please compensate your driver for gas!

DURATION: Finish by early/mid afternoon.

PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Bring a muzzle (you shouldn't need be told to bring a proper leash), and if you'd like to unleash, ask others before you do so. Warning: the volcanic rock is very, very rough on your pets feet.

SKILL LEVEL is reasonably beginner friendly, if you are walking around the crater. Going into the crater requires light rock scrambling.

TERRAIN is sand and volcanic rock.

WEATHER: The temperature should be  low of 45 to  high of 65 perfect hiking weather. 

AFTERWARDS we'll see.

MEET for carpool at:

• Las Cruces: 8:00 am, in/outside Milagro Coffee at Pan Am Plaza. See map (OpenStreetMap or Google Maps).

• El Paso: 8:45 am, in the southwest corner of Carls Jr parking lot at Artcraft and Interstate 10. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)

The Crusans will meet the Pasoans at Carls Jr. and caravan to Kilbourne Hole.

DIRECTIONS to Killbourne Hole from Carls Jr (thanks Timmy!), in case you decide to do the silly thing and not follow the caravan:

• From Carls Jr (7910 Artcraft Rd.), turn left onto 178/136/Artcraft Rd.)

• Go 6.66 mi to Airport Rd. (at the red light, turn right onto Airport)

• Go 0.25 mi, turn left onto Industrial Rd.

• Go 0.44 mi, turn right onto County Road A017 (dirt road)

• Go 8 mi to stop sign, turn right.

• Go 0.1 mi, turn left.

• Go 3.3 mi, turn left (just past the pit of black rocks on the left hand side) onto County Road A011 (sign most likely missing)

• Go 8.3 mi where there is another main dirt road going left, with a minor dirt road to the right. Turn right.

• Go 0.1 mi and you should see the crater directly in front of you.

MORE information:

• Kilbourne Hole at the BLM


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  • Joseph Y.

    Someone asked a question about olivine, so I had to look it up. Olivine and peridot are the same mineral, but olivine is not gem-grade while peridot is gem-grade. Peridot is also known as chrysolite.

    3 · November 14, 2015

    • Sandra M.

      Thank you

      November 15, 2015

    • Mike L

      Yeah, Sandra, now you have to throw all your rocks away :)

      November 15, 2015

  • gabriele

    great hike, thanks again, Steven.

    2 · November 14, 2015

  • John P.

    Well organized thank you

    2 · November 14, 2015

  • Inoka

    We r leaving Las Cruces like in 5 min.. Running a bit late

    November 14, 2015

  • Joseph Y.

    My +1 will be driving a Suburban, if anyone wants a ride. (There will be at least one dog)

    November 13, 2015

  • Marie

    Sick...gonna have to back out :(
    Really hope this one pops up again!

    November 13, 2015

  • gabriele

    we meet at 7am to be there at 8am, is that right?
    Hubby needs clarification or else... won't go I guess.
    Have one spot in our car to offer, Salvador. Subi Outback should make it easily.

    November 9, 2015

    • Samat

      @Mary: it had changed by the time I had replied as well… in case there is doubt in the future, the time listed in the Meetup event (not the description) is the correct one.

      1 · November 13, 2015

    • Mary

      Thx! Good to know.

      November 13, 2015

  • Sandra M.

    I am meeting you all in El Paso. I hope there is room to ride with someone. My Honda is quite low.

    November 13, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hello, does anybody meeting at Carl's Jr have room for one more?
    I'd like to go but have a low 2 seater, and know it won't make it over the sand

    November 9, 2015

    • Samat

      There's always space, please don't worry about it. It's difficult to make carpool plans before going (what will you do if the person you're carpooling does not show up?) so please wait till meeting to figure out carpool. And yes, please don't bring your low-clearanced car with low-profile sports tires! Otherwise most 2WD cars are fine.

      November 9, 2015

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Samat! That definitely helps

      November 9, 2015

  • Lorenzo C.

    Hi, how far from Carol's Junior is the crater? Do you know if my Nissan Armada will pass the sandy roads? It isn't a 4 wheel drive.

    September 28, 2015

    • Samat

      ~30 mi. You'll be fine with your vehicle.

      November 9, 2015

  • Chris

    Would a Nissan altina make it?

    1 · November 2, 2015

    • Samat

      Yes, normal driving in sand rules apply (don't stop, keep moving). Going with a group, you'll be fine.

      November 9, 2015

  • steven

    i drive a aveo and I had no problem 30 miles

    September 29, 2015

  • gabriele

    We're planning to be there with a 4WD, but probably a car load full, five in all. Have been waiting for this posting! Great.

    September 26, 2015

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