Fossil Falls, Little Lake

The Fossil Falls is a unique geological feature, located in the Coso Range of California in the United States. Volcanic activity in the mountain range, along with meltwater from glaciers in the nearby Sierra Nevada, played a role in the creation of the falls. They are located near Little Lake, Inyo County, California, 1.0mi off US 395 (at a red cinder cone called "Red Hill") on Cinder Road to Red Hill, with signs to Fossil Falls.
During the last ice age, glaciers formed in the Sierra Nevada. Meltwater from the glaciers pooled into large lakes, including Owens Lake and the Owens River. The river traveled through to Indian Wells Valley, and its course was diverted several times by volcanic activity. The falls were formed when the river was forced to divert its course over a basalt flow, polishing and reshaping the rock into a variety of unique shapes and forms.
All the lava flows at Fossil Falls are basaltic. The Coso Volcanic Field brought flows from the north east and later Red Hill, which can be viewed from Fossil Falls, released the younger lava. The flows occurred between 400,000 years ago and 10,000 years ago. During this period, the glacial flows would run through Fossil Falls and smooth the vesicular basalt. The erosion found at Fossil Falls was formed by the youngest glacial runoff, called the Tioga, from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range about 20,000 to 10,000 years ago.
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Fossil Falls Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
41 reviews
  • Located a few minutes drive over a bumpy gravel road off 395, this is a hidden gem. Free parking and a covered pit toilet are located at the end of the road where you walk a not very good trail for ab...  more »
  • This is just a little over a mile from the highway. The trail to the falls is .21 miles from the parking lot. So very little effort involved. The road is gravel and is washboard for about 2/3. Apparen...  more »
  • Should be an beautiful waterfall through solidified lava if there is water. You can climb down a little bit. Next to the falls starting from the parking lot there is everywhere solidified lava which looks awesome.
  • Awesome rock formations.

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Duration: 2​h
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