RV camping in the Eastern Sierra near Fossil Falls

Fossil Falls

At Fossil Falls, wind and water have sculpted a 20,000 year old lava flow into a stunning work of art. Rugged and sharp black volcanic rock has been polished smooth and carved into fantastic shapes. The falls are located in the remote Eastern Sierra northwest of Ridgecrest, California.

There is some great camping to be found on BLM land east of the Fossil Falls Recreation Area. This camping area feels very remote and peaceful. Most traffic is passing by on Highway 395, with just a few stopping at Fossil Falls for a quick look.

We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Where in The World?

There is a flat as a pancake dry lake bed next to Fossil Falls Recreation Area that makes for excellent wild and free camping. It offers plenty of room to stretch out. Fossil Falls is just a short 15 minute walk from the dry lake.

Another option is to stay at the Fossil Falls Campground, which has water and restrooms. The campground has primitive campsites that cost $6 per night.

Camping Elevation: 3,323 feet

GPS Coordinates: N 35 59.078 W 117 54.032

Directions to Camping Area: From Ridgecrest, California drive north on Highway 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 dry lake bed.

Fossil Falls Camping Area Map

Fossil Falls RV Camping Journal

May 12, 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 and 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 Hwy 395. 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 when I visited, but it was pleasant to hear nonetheless. At the end of this rough road there is a trail going up the side of the mountain. This trail meets another trail in Sacatar Canyon to the west, which then leads to Kennedy Meadows Road.

Weather: When I arrived in early May 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, and 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, a 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.

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.

RV Solar: 90% sun.

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

RV 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, my cell signal is great, and there is little wind.

Fossil Falls Video Slideshow

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *