Fossil Falls

The beautifully carved out and smooth basalt stone

The beautifully carved out and smooth basalt stone

 

Fossil Falls formed after the last ice age. Water from glaciers melting on the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range flowed down into the valley creating lakes and rivers (Owens Lake & Owens River). The river flowed through the Indian Wells Valley, when volcanoes in the area erupted, the river became diverted over the basalt. This event polished and reshaped the rock into the unique manner in which we see it today.

The area surrounding Fossil Falls was inhabited by the Coso People 10-20 thousand years ago. The now dry river was an ideal camp location with its free-flowing water. The last Native people to live here were the Timbisha. This is the same band of Native Americans that inhabit and call Death Valley their homeland today.

There is plenty of evidence remaining today of these early inhabitants including petroglyphs, obsidian chips, house rings, and campsites.

A vast majority of the petroglyphs are located inside of the falls, to reach them you must climb down from the top. It is not an overly difficult task, but if you are the more timid type, you may second guess yourself before you even begin.

Camping is permitted at Fossil Falls, a small campground with eleven spaces is available. The campground fee is $6.00 per night. The camping area has a restroom, a hand pump for potable water, fire rings and picnic tables.

 

Sheep petroglyphs located inside of the falls

Sheep petroglyphs located inside of the falls

 

Petroglyph located inside of the falls

Petroglyph located inside of the falls

 

This petroglyph is well hidden inside one of the basalt tubes. It looks like a flower, but is most likely an atlatl.

This petroglyph is well hidden inside one of the basalt tubes. It looks like a flower, but is most likely an atlatl.

 

 

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

  • Really grateful for this post, as I looked it up last night while we were on a quick stop in Mojave. Today headed out to Fossil Falls and had a great time spotting petroglyphs. Thanks for the great post! :)

    • Happy to hear that you enjoyed your time at Fossil Falls!