“Rushing river, sculpted black lava”
The truth is that the name Fossil Falls is a bit of a misnomer. After all, there are neither fossils nor a waterfall here. But a walk through these polished lava formations about 36 miles/58 kilometers northwest of the desert city of Ridgecrest is a highlight of any drive along Highway 395. This remarkable site was formed by the interaction of rushing water from the Owens River (which in wetter prehistoric times flowed at a much higher rate) with lava that poured from nearby volcanoes as recently as 20,000 years ago. The result is this surreal, convoluted chasm of shiny, sculpted black lava. A short trail leads to the falls, which you can observe from above or, for a closer look, follow a trail to carefully descend the falls (hold onto children’s hands as footing can be tricky). Insider's Tip: Night skies in this remote high desert locale are also spectacular; check out the nightly celestial show from the Fossil Falls campground with 11 sites (potable water and restrooms on site), plus picnic tables and fire rings.
We really didn't know what to expect when we added this stop to our road trip but I'm really glad we did. Beautiful, stunning formation.
The entrance to the falls is a few miles north of where the Roadtrippers marker is showing. You won’t miss it it’s well marked and even though the road is not paved its graded so any vehicle can access this area. Bathrooms are pretty dirty and full of flies so use at your own risk.
Got to location on map and was nothing there unfortunately
Great short hike to a unique site. If you’re into geology this is a must stop along the way. Otherwise, enjoy a short hike and take the time to stop and look. All sorts of natural beauty to be seen.
Rocky and uneven path 1/4 mile to the “falls”. There is no water there but is what created the formations.
Very nice for a short visit, short walk. It was easy to find and well waymarked. The walk from the parking lot is a bit find-your-own-way but not very difficult.
Amazing looking formations! Wish I had more time to explore more. I will definitely be back on my next trip to Mammoth! Like an other reviewer said - don't follow the navigation included here - use Google or Apple Maps instead. The marker here is incorrect.
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Fossil Falls Campground
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Good for hiking, stargazing, and walking.
Credit Cards Accepted
- Max Stay
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Standard Tent Sites