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Fossil Falls

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Lower Falls 
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Fossil Falls Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,300'
Location: 35.97175, -117.91079 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 8,676
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Benjamin Chapman on Dec 23, 2014  with updates from Alex S


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Fossil Falls beta map courtesy of Greg Vernon.


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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 11.4 miles from here

30 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',8],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Fossil Falls

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Fossil Falls:
Birdshit Crack   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Upper Falls
The Pinwheel   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Upper Falls
Sigmoid Crack   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Upper Falls
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Fossil Falls

Featured Route For Fossil Falls
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at Ride of the Valkyries

Ride of the Valkyries 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b  California : Sierra Eastside : ... : Lower Falls
Climb the left facing corner to the back of the roof, work your way out to the lip of the roof, regain your balance and climb to the intermediate anchors on the ledge (40ft)From the follow the crack up and right passing old fixed gear, and continue up easy terrain to rim, OR go back left up the wide crack, then further left along the diagonal thin hands crack to the rim directly over the start of the climb....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Fossil Falls Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking into the falls from the end of the trail
BETA PHOTO: Looking into the falls from the end of the trail
Rock Climbing Photo: Overview Map of Fossil Falls by Bob Lindgren.
Overview Map of Fossil Falls by Bob Lindgren.

Comments on Fossil Falls Add Comment
Show which comments
By kfox Fox
Jan 4, 2015
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.

By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Jun 28, 2015
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.
By Alex S
From: Ridgecrest CA
Nov 23, 2015
Thanks to whomever did the recent anchor maintenance.
By Aaron Formella
From: Atascadero, CA
Nov 24, 2015
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
By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Nov 24, 2015
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.
By Charles Clark
Jul 6, 2017
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?
By Joe Garibay
From: Ventura, Ca
Jul 11, 2017
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.

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