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Fossil Falls

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Fossil Falls

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  • Parking area and trailhead.- Fossil Falls
  • The Bureau of Land Management maintains a registry at the trailhead to monitor area use.- Fossil Falls
  • A trail from an adjacent campground forks with the Fossil Falls Trail.- Fossil Falls
  • The Fossil Falls Trail.- Fossil Falls
  • Fossil Falls.- Fossil Falls
  • Smoothed basalt patterns.- Fossil Falls
  • Fossil Falls.- Fossil Falls
  • Red Hill cinder cone behind the canyon of the 40-foot dry falls.- Fossil Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Accessible from a nearby highway. No crowds.
Cons: 
No shade.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Fossil Falls is a dry waterfall containing smoothed basaltic stone formations in California's volcanic Coso Range. It is easily accessible after a short hike through exposed terrain.

Formed by a combination of volcanic and glacial activity, the falls are located in river bed that has dried as a result of water diversion from the Owens Lake Basin to the City of Los Angeles. Past lava flows from the nearby Red Hill, now a red-hued cinder cone located about a mile north of the dry falls, combined with water flow created by glacier melt in the Sierra resulted in smooth basalt stone lining these 40-foot falls. Today the formations contain stone arches and potholes created by the long-term erosion from granite swirling inside eddys.

The road to Fossil Falls requires a 1.2-mile drive down a rutted dirt road that could be handled by a two-wheel drive car. A relatively flat .23-mile out-and-back trail leads from the parking area to the top of the falls. There is also an adjacent fee-campground with space for cars located near the trailhead.

The trailhead has a vault toilet and picnic tables.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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