We’d seen some intriguing photos on instagram of arches in the Eastern Sierras, and when we ran across this article on the Crowley Lake Columns, we thought our Thanksgiving road trip would be a great chance to check them out.
A prior attempt to see the columns in August had been aborted when smoke marred visibility, so it was with great anticipation that we finally turned off US395 out to check out the columns.
The columns, and their setting, is bizarre and otherworldly- easy to imagine something from an alien thriller set. Fragments of columns litter the ground, and the process of weathering which exposes the columns is readily visible- stumps of columns stick out of the bluffs, and slowly are exposed from the hillsides by wind, waves, and time.
There are a few cave-like arcades in which you can truly wander amongst the columns, in a weird geologic cathedral. Bring a wide-angle lens, as the caves are relatively shallow, and it’s difficult to capture the rows of columns with a narrow lens.
Definitely a highly recommended side trip on any trip to the Mammoth area.
Note on driving directions: There are two routes to get to the columns, either from the north along Benton Crossing Road (~1hr from US395), or south along the Owens River Road (~20mins from US395). Both require a 4WD vehicle, and based on our experience I would recommend the southern route (map here). Parking on a bluff above the columns, you can walk down to the center of the most interesting columns.