Driving northeast on the 14 freeway towards the 395 highway in Southern California, you will come across several miles of unusual landscape, which are actually volcanic rocks & cinder. Coso Volcanic Field will not be an obvious place to visit. You just see a hill of what looks like dirt or sand. But It is a geothermal wonderland that includes hot springs & mud pots, though neither of those things are reachable for the general public to see, apparently. The site is used for its energy, which is sent to the Southern California power grid. Yay!
The landscape near the entrance is deep red volcanic cinder & ash and next to that area is black. In the other direction, a former waterfall is surrounded by volcanic rock. You can get out of your car and walk around all of it. And it’s fantastic and surreal and amazing! I walked around the former waterfall area with my boyfriend. It is a rocky walk, but way easy.
A photo shoot was happening in the area with the black cinder/ash so we patiently waited until they were gone, which then gave us the area to ourselves to gleefully romp around. Err, maybe it was just me romping around like a dork.
The area has a small campground called Fossil Falls (which is what the waterfall is named), which is first-come-first-serve, and has bathrooms. Bathrooms are a deal breaker for me, although the warmer it gets, the more flying bugs hang out in them. The grounds also have drinking water, fire rings, and tables. Just keep the temperatures in mind. It gets hella hot out there in the summer. No, I have not yet camped there so have no review.
There could actually be an eruption in the area at some point, but it doesn’t sound like it would be anything too crazy or destructive. I am obsessed with it erupting and find myself checking the USGS page frequently for any sign of it.
I won’t pretend I am a volcanologist, so look here and here for more info.
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