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Fossil Falls, Little Lake

4.7
#14 of 18 in Nature in California Desert
Geologic Formation Nature / Park
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.GeologyDuring 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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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
32 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This was a gorgeous place to visit. The hike was short .21 miles to the falls. The campground has no shade. There is a water pump and out houses for the campground. I don't recommend this when it is o...  more »
  • On a trip from Oregon to Joshua Tree NP we saw the one sign pointing to Fossil Falls and pulled off to take a look. While there are no fossils and the "falls" is dry, the shining and sculpted black la...  more »
  • Beautifull place. Just stop for a couple of minutes when you pass by. About 5 min from the highway. Accessible by car  more »

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