Fossil Falls: A Surprise on the Eastern Sierra
I am not going to deny that I am a fan of off-the-beaten- path places and attraction. After all, that concept is in the tagline of the blog.
One day when researching attractions around the Bishop area, I found rave reviews about a place called Fossil Falls. Then, I remember I read a review about the place in the California through My Lens blog.
The last day of our road trip around Yosemite and Route 395 (including Mono Lake), rain interfered with our plans. Therefore, we decided to drive straight home, arrive early and rest since we had to go to work the next day.
A hundred miles into the drive I saw a sign that took me back to that moment when I found all those great reviews about Fossil Falls.
Three seconds after seeing the sign, I told my husband to turn left at the next crossing. Ok, I screamed out of the blue: “Go there.” He was a bit confused but succeeded at turning.
“I believe we can accommodate the last sight of the trip,” I said. Rain gave us a break for about an hour.
I am not going to lie. The road in here is bumpy. It is difficult to notice the holes in the unpaved ground. A hole so deep shook the entire car and moved our bodies in a very violent fashion. We continue moving at a turtle’s pace.
On top of that, this area feels like an entire different planet.
I say that because the first thing you notice when you enter is a dramatic cinder cone. This is the result of a violent eruption of trapped gases and molten material from a vent in the earth’s crust. The material cooled down quickly when exposed to the air forming a porous red rock called scoria.
The red rock (or soil) is everywhere. I think this scene is comparable to what you would see in a planet like Mars (since it is known as the red planet).
The cinder cone is surrounded by what looks like a dune or wall of thin red rock.
After driving a mile, we made it to the parking lot.
This is when you start to see black volcanic rock in all shapes, colors and forms.
Many, many years ago the Owens River flowed south out of the Owens Lake (hence the name of this valley). Volcanic eruptions from a nearby range (Coso Range) changed the river’s course at least three times. Fossil Falls were formed when the river was damned by an eruption and ran over the lava flows. The water movement sculpted and polished the black rocks we see today in the area.
The river no longer flows around the here. The waters of the Owens Lake were dried up after years of use by the Los Angeles Metropolitan area.
Even thought there is not a lot of water around, a sea of rocks remains.
They lay in the ground against the backdrop of the reddish cinder cone.
There are other areas where the slopes of the Eastern Sierra can be seen behind them.
It is interesting to see all the colors that have popped up due to oxidization.
In other cases, it looks like the colors come from certain fungal organisms.
I had to take a close look at certain rocks because I wasn’t sure if the color was natural or artificial (it turns out it was natural).
Oh, and remember those red rocks? The form pretty patterns. As a matter of fact, I would not mind having floors in with these colors.
Plants find a way to survive the volcanic terrain.
The name of this geological formation is not understood until you reach a 40 foot drop. There you can see the gorge where the water used to “fall.”
In my opinion, this is the area were the most funky looking rocks are located. To me, they look like abstract painting. Look how smooth those rocks are.
We continued walking around for a several more minutes. It was time to go back to the car since I started to feel the huge drops falling over my head.
I absolutely enjoyed this area. It reminds me how much I love volcanic areas. I am glad I can say that was the last stop of a magnificent trip.
- Fossil Falls Scenic Area is located about 100 miles south of Bishop, California on Road 395.
- You are going to notice the signs once approaching the area.
- The cinder cone and part of the falls is visible from the freeway.
- The trail is about one and a half mile. It can be longer if you wander around the area.
- Exercise caution when walking around the gorge / canyon area.
- There is a toilet next to the parking lot (very smelly, no toilet paper).
- Help with the preservation of the area. Do not throw trash or take rocks with you.
Have you see strange volcanic formations before?
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