A Short Stay in Fossil Falls, California

Our second ever boondocking experience took place in an area called Fossil Falls Dry Lake Bed. Prior to our visit, I had never heard of this locale, and, initially, we did not even plan to visit here. However, after being forced out of the Alabama Hills area by impending floods, we discovered that Fossil Falls was the next closest free camping location. Thus, we briefly visited this location from January 8th until January 10th in early 2017.

Fossil Falls is a beautiful, diverse area protected by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), where campers are permitted to stay for free, for a maximum of fourteen days. It is located in the Eastern Sierra Mountains, in a tiny town called “Little Lake,” about forty-five minutes from the slightly more populated area of Ridgecrest. While there, we enjoyed excellent data reception, which allowed us to work in our RV while enjoying the beautiful scenery outside our windows.

The landscape of Fossil Falls is like nothing I had seen before. The best description I can think of is that it looks like a prehistoric lava field. The sands are vivid shades of red and black, and the shrubs are bright yellow. Altogether, it’s a very scenic locations, with extremely interesting, 360 degree views of the dry lake beds and surrounding lava fields.

While staying in Fossil Falls, we went for several long hikes and walks. Max, Archie, and Luna especially enjoyed scrambling and chasing each other through the vivid sand and solidified lava rocks.

One particular hill that we explored exhibited especially beautiful views of the several dry lake beds and Fossil Falls itself. On one particular hike, we sat up on this hill for a bit and enjoyed looking out at all the surrounding areas and the mountains beyond.

Our favorite thing about this spot was its remoteness. While there, we were the only campers I saw, and the location was very private. However, due to the remoteness, all convenience locations were very far away. The closest grocery store was about an hour away, and the one gas station that was closeby was much more expensive than those in more populated locations. Perhaps this is the price one must pay to have a beautiful location completely to themselves.

Prehistoric lava field lake ?☁️️?

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The lands where we camped for free are called “Fossil Falls Dry Lake Bed,” and this camping location is located about a mile from the area’s main attraction, which is inevitably called “Fossil Falls.” It is a bit confusing, but Fossil Falls itself is a large canyon filled with volcanic rocks and is a very specific attraction. This canyon was created by a combination of  prehistoric lava flows and glacial flooding. We could have spent hours exploring this awesome canyon, but we were only able to briefly check it out, as we were forced to leave abruptly due to an impending wind storm.

Fossil Falls is definitely one of California’s hidden gems, and I would highly recommend staying here for at least a couple days should you ever find yourself in the area. However, you must be sure to check the weather beforehand, as we unfortunately learned that any winds over 12-15 mph feel much worse here. This is due to that fact that, because of the remote location, there is nothing to block or stop the winds. The entire time we were here, we had to keep our slides bumped in, and we ended up leaving much earlier than planned due to the strong winds. (Check out the post I wrote on how to survive strong winds in an RV). However, we hope to return one day for a longer visit and a more thorough exploration of the Fossil Falls.

Have you driven through CA-395 in California? Have you visited Fossil Falls? Feel free to share in the comments below!

About Samantha Binger

Samantha BingerSam is one-half of the Life Among Pines crew. She is an animal-loving bookworm, an avid photographer and an amateur chef/wanna-be foodie. Travel and adventure are two of her biggest passions in life, and she loves living life on the road, where she can explore new places on the daily. When not writing a new blog post, you can find her sipping tea, hiking with her dogs, sampling a local brewery, or fulfilling orders for her Etsy shop, MugsySupplyHouse. Feel free to reach out and say hi!