Elevation: 3,300 ft
GPS: 35.972, -117.911 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 14,029 total · 282/month
Shared By: Benjamin Chapman on Dec 23, 2014 with updates from Alex S
Admins: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Fossil Falls is a unique geological feature off US Hwy 395 between Ridgecrest and Lone Pine, CA. Fossil Falls is a scenic area managed by the Bureau of Land Management and a worthwhile stop, if time permits, along the way to Bishop, the Eastern Sierra, Tuolomne Meadows, or other destination areas.
Fossil Falls offers bouldering, toproping, and traditional climbing on 50+ documented routes up to 100 ft in length. The rock is volcanic basalt, that contains cracks and pocketed faces, made incredibly smooth and polished by the meltwater flows of prehistoric glaciers and the Owen's River. Cracks of all sizes and roofs, bulges, and overhangs in the polished basalt. Fossil Falls consists of five distinct areas; the Upper Area (east side & west side), the Lower Area (west side & east side), and Scott's Bluff (WHICH IS CURRENTLY CLOSED TO CLIMBING DUE TO PRIVATE PROPERTY).

Getting There

From US Hwy 395 north, exit on Cinder Road, 3 miles north of Little Lake and 5 miles south of Coso Junction. Drive east on Cinder Road for 1/2 mile to a road on the right marked "Fossil Falls." A short 5-6 minute walk to the east and then south, from the south end of the parking area, leads to the rim of Fossil Falls.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Fossil Falls

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Can anyone verify that all areas, other than Scotts bluff are now open for climbing? I stumbled upon a SuperTopo thread from a few years ago that was unclear.

Thanks Jan 4, 2015
Benjamin Chapman
Small Town, USA
Benjamin Chapman   Small Town, USA
kfox...Fossil Falls is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Ridgecrest, CA. Everything at Fossil Falls is climbable, except the area downstream known as Scott's Bluff and the Ranch/Refuge adjacent to that. Stay out of that area and Little Lake and you'll be fine. Jun 28, 2015
Alex S
Ridgecrest CA
Alex S   Ridgecrest CA
Thanks to whomever did the recent anchor maintenance. Nov 23, 2015
Aaron Formella
Atascadero, CA
Aaron Formella   Atascadero, CA
Does anyone know what the bolting ethics are here? I see that there are no bolted routes posted, is there a prohibition against lead bolting or is there a strictly trad ethic to the area? Thanks Nov 24, 2015
Benjamin Chapman
Small Town, USA
Benjamin Chapman   Small Town, USA
Aaron...there are bolts at Fossil Falls. There are two bolts on Left of the Prow (5.11a), as well as, Lethal Weapon (5.12) on the east side of the Lower Area. Just be judicious with their use. Nov 24, 2015
So we went to fossil Falls last weekend climbed down to the bottom took some pictures. Then a Chevy Silverado drove up and flagged me over. So I went to talk to him. We were getting ready to climb back out by the way. The man in the truck told me we were on private property with his dog and gun next to him in the truck and he could not allow us to stay. I asked if it was posted anywhere because we would have gladly avoided any area that had been marked. We then climbed out on the parking lot side of the falls and climbed in from the other side. to be honest I really liked the hike we did and got great pictures...But what is and what's not private property? Jul 6, 2017
Joe Garibay
Ventura, Ca
Joe Garibay   Ventura, Ca
Gray area. Lower Falls are suppose to be ok right around that immediate area, but off limits some hundred or so feet away. I've researched before but came up with more questions. I've only climbed the upper Falls area so far and have never met the land owner down the way. He is apparently nasty and fed up. Hopefully someone with more info can chime in. Until some solid boundaries are set I will continue to be a low profile visitor to this amazing place in hopes of coming back again and again. Jul 11, 2017