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Visited: September 25, 2016
Description: Soon after the reservoir was built in 1941, strange column-like formations appeared along the eastern shore.
Length: 1-2 miles
Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy on you but can be rough for your car
Best time to go: Sunset
Bring: 4×4 vehicle, map
HikeSnobs will go far and wide to find unique natural beauties. After seeing a picture of Crowley Lake’s stone columns, it was immediately added to the HikeSnob bucket list. Having a few extra days before our climb up Half Dome, we took a day trip to Mammoth and made a quick detour to Crowley Lake. We knew there were some roads requiring 4×4 so we were a bit nervous.
Usually, when we go offroading, we’re in a rental with full insurance so we can drive the sh*t out of it. This time, we had Trina, Linda’s baby, and she almost had a heart attack 😖
Coming off Highway 395, you’ll make a left onto Benton Crossing Road. This road is more known for the hot springs in the area. As you’re driving along the lake, you can spot the Crowley Lake formations from a distance on the right.
The entrance to the dirt road can be found here. Taking the second right up a hill, follow it all the way to the split. Either way will take you to the lake but we turned right because it seemed to be the road more traveled. It is easy to get lost so make sure you properly mapped your route to the beach. Luckily, we crossed paths with a deer hunter who assured us we were headed the right direction.
We definitely recommend a 4×4 vehicle… the roads were extremely bumpy and there were ginormous potholes. Just 15 minutes on this nerve-racking road which seemed to stretch for an eternity, we finally reached the beach. We drove on the beach as far as we could before deciding it was too rocky and sandy for us to proceed further. Leaving Trina parked along the beach, we began our descent down the bluff along the lake shore.
Following along the shoreline we were able to spot the mysterious columns from a distance.
These smaller formations reminded us of elephants. We knew there were taller columns as high as 20 feet so we proceeded farther.
The rocky beach soon turned into a trail of small boulders. Watch your footing here, some of the boulders were extremely loose. You may even notice some “worm-like” features on some of the boulders 🤢 Initially grossed out, we were “brave” enough to take a closer look to realize they were just part of the rock. Even though the rocks didn’t actually have worms, it still gave us enough shivers to quicken our pace.
Half a mile in we reached soaring 20 feet white and pink volcanic columns. This was by far our favorite part of entire beach. We have never seen anything like this before!!!
These strange pillars have been buried and hidden for ages. After the completion of the reservoir, the wind and waves carved into the soft pumice cliffs leaving a series of shallow caves and stand-alone columns.
You can explore inside and stand under some of the columns. We were lucky enough to catch the sunset here. It was absolutely gorgeous.
Crowley Lake is such a unique place and awesome place. We love finding new and interesting places to explore and every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Just make sure you leave early enough to not be attacked by a bunch of mosquitoes.
If you know of any place that you think we should explore, let us know! We’ll add it to our bucket list and eventually get our asses out there. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to come with us too! 👯
- 4×4 required! Or you can drive as far as you can and walk the rest of the way.
- There may be swarms of mosquitoes. We came back to car to find a huge swarm over our car. We had to quickly rush in to GTFO.
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