Fossil Falls, Ridgecrest, California

by Will

Fossil Falls with its sculpted volcanic rock

Fossil Falls with its sculpted volcanic rock

The wildly wind and water sculpted Fossil Falls is fascinating. There is some great camping to be found on BLM land east of the Fossil Falls Recreation Area. It's a very remote and peaceful place. Most of the traffic is passing by on Hwy 395, with just a few stopping at Fossil Falls for a quick look.

There’s a flat as a pancake dry lake bed here that makes for excellent camping. It offers plenty of room to spread out. Fossil Falls is just a short 15 minute walk from the campsite.

Campsite GPS Coordinates: N 35 59.078 W 117 54.032

Elevation: 3323 feet

Campsite Directions: From Ridgecrest head north on Hwy 395 for 25 miles. Look for the sign to Fossil Falls. Turn right (east) on Cinder Road and drive a little over 1 mile, passing the entrance road to Fossil Falls and reaching a lesser road on your right. Take this road southeast to the flat dry lake bed.

More Campsites: There are primitive campsites in Fossil Falls Recreation Area that cost $5.00 per night. The campground has water and restrooms.

Fossil Falls Campsite Map

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Fossil Falls Video Slideshow

Fossil Falls RV Camping Journal

May 12th, 2013

Recreation: Exploring east of here isn’t possible because that’s the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, a restricted area. So for exploring it’s Fossil Falls, Little Lake, Red Hill, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

A view of Little Lake can be had by following the signs taking you east then south on the power line road.

Red Hill looks climbable, though I didn’t attempt it.

Sacatar Trail Wilderness: By taking Cinder Road west across Hwy 395, then west to the small cinder piles you’ll find a primitive road paralleling the Highway. Take this north to the first road on the left. This road leads you up the alluvial plain to the mouth of a small canyon where a watery oasis can be found. There are Joshua trees, willows, green grass, green

bushes, and several birds. There was only a trickle flowing, but it was pleasant to hear nonetheless. At the end of this rough road is an even rougher road going up the side of the mountain. It looks passable on foot only. From my atlas it appears this road meets a better jeep road in Sacatar Canyon to the west, which then leads to Kennedy Meadows Road.

Peacefulness: The only noise here is the faint sound of traffic on Hwy 395 and the occasional buzzing of the high voltage power line to the east. I see very few airplanes overhead, just a loud military fighter jet now and then, single prop plane, or small helicopter. The air traffic here is nothing compared to Joshua Tree National Park or Borrego Springs in Southern California.

Weather: When I arrived it was in the 80s, then it cooled down to the 60s for a few days with a storm system that brought some light rain and a dusting of snow to the mountains northwest of here. It’s now warmed back up to the 80s. Lows ranged from the lower 60s down to 39 degrees for 3 nights during the storm. Mornings are usually calm, then light wind in the afternoon. It was pretty windy for a couple days during the storm.

Wildlife: Ravens, bats, energetic ground squirrels, a few rabbits, variety of birds in the canyon, small and large lizards (some very fast light colored ones, possibly zebra-tailed lizards), swifts, good sized black bird I’ve never seen (nighthawk perhaps), geese overhead on occasion.

Insects: Gnats were a nuisance on a couple mornings when it was dead calm - otherwise no problems.

Cell Signal: Super duper fast Verizon mobile broadband internet, and super 3g cell phone reception too.

Water/RV Dump: The Fossil Falls Recreation Area campground has water.

RV Solar: 90% sun here

Campsite Rating: 10 out of 10. This is a convenient place to camp. It’s flat as a pancake for easy leveling, the scenery is superb, it’s quiet, there’s lots to explore, the cell signal is great, and there is little wind.

For more information on Fossil Falls, see the BLM web page.

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