The Ares Vallis region is surrounded by highland terrain containing both degraded and pristine large impact craters that suggest a change in climate during the Late Noachian-Early Hesperian, from warmer, wetter conditions to colder, dryer conditions. However, the regional occurrence of Hesperian-age crater outlet channels indicates that this period on Mars was characterized by episodic climate fluctuations that caused transient warming, facilitating the stability of liquid water at the surface. An extensive survey of the morphology and topography of 75 impact basins in the region indicates that of the largest degraded craters, 4 were identified with single outlet channels that suggest the former presence of water infill. These basins lack inlets indicating that water influx was likely derived from sapping of groundwater. A comparison of measured crater rim heights to modeled rim heights suggests that the bulk of the depth/diameter reduction on these craters was the result of infilling, possibly by sediments. Crater statistics indicate that crater degradation and infill occurred during a short 200 Ma interval in the Late Noachian, from 3.8 Ga to 3.6 Ga. Craters that formed after 3.6 Ga exhibit a near-pristine morphology. Our results support the hypothesis of rapid climate change at the end of the Noachian period. However, geologic relationships between the crater outlet channels and Ares Vallis indicate that drainage occurred only after the period of intense crater modification, during the Hesperian (3.5–2.9 Ga). This suggests a delay between the time of infill of the craters and the time of drainage.