Tag Archives: Timbisha
Fossil Falls is located in the Coso Mountain Range, just a short distance from Highway 395 near the privately owned Little Lake Ranch. If you are coming north on 395, from the Little Lake main gate on the right continue 1.79 miles, and turn right on Cinder Rd., from Cinder Rd. follows the signs to the Fossil Falls parking area. If you are traveling south on 395, follow 395 for 21.13 miles from the Beef Jerky store in Olancha. When you reach Cinder Rd. make a left, and follow the signs to the Fossil Falls parking area. From the parking area there is a short quarter of a mile hike to the falls.
This amazing formation came to be 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 down the Indian Wells Valley, and when volcanoes in the area erupted the river became diverted over the basalt flow which polished and reshaped the rock into the unique manner in which we see it today.
The area around Fossil Falls was inhabited by the Coso Native American 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 around the Fossil Falls area was the Timbisha. This is the same band of Native Americans that inhabit and call Death Valley their homeland today. There is plenty of evidence that remains today of these early inhabitants including petroglyphs, obsidian chips that has been brought down from the Coso Mountains to chip arrowheads and other tools, as well as house rings, and campsites.
If your interest is in the petroglyphs of the area you will need to be able to do some climbing. All of the petroglyphs are located inside of the falls, and the only way to reach them is by climbing down from the top. It is not a difficult task, but for the more timid you may second guess yourself before you even begin. In order to find some of the other Native American features of the area you have to be willing to explore the area. There are not specific trails set aside, you have to make your own. This is the only way to see the house rings, and campsites that the Native Americans lived at.
If you are interested in camping at Fossil Falls, there is a small camp ground with eleven spaces 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.