Crowley Lake Columns: Strange Formations on the East Side of the Lake

The Crowley Lake Columns are a mysterious site that many people do not know about along Highway 395. These natural columns are not easy to get to, but they are rewarding for any adventurer who makes their way out there to see them. Here is the information if you want to check it out.

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  • 40 minutes off Highway 395
  • 20 minutes on a dirt road where you NEED to have 4WD

Getting There

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Driving up Highway 395 from Bishop, you will turn right on Benton Crossing Road, the road that has all of the hot springs on it. From there you will follow it as it heads towards the mountains then bends around the lake and heads towards the east side. Exactly two miles after you pass the dirt road named Layton Springs Road you will see a small dirt road off to the right (watch your odometer). I would highly recommend looking at satellite view on Google Maps for this section as it is easy to get lost with all of the different offshoots on the road. You will drive along this dirt road for about 15 minutes as you make your way to the beach. When you reach the beach, you can continue to drive left if your car can do it or you can park here and hike along the beach to the left to eventually reach the columns.

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I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND not making the drive to the beach without 4WD. There were massive potholes in the road, a few steep sections of sand and even some rocks jutting out from the road. It was not bad with 4WD, but I wouldn’t do it without.

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When you finally make it to the beach, you can drive along the sand or park and head South East along the beach till you see the columns in front of you.

The Columns

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You can pretty much walk for the next mile along the beach seeing all of the columns as they go on for quite a while.

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Some are small and not defined while others are 15 feet tall.

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There are many small caves that you can explore while you are hiking around.

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Learn more about the history of the columns here.

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The best area to see the columns is about a half mile walk along the beach, and they include columns that are about 15 feet high. You can even walk around these as they go back about 4 feet into the rock.

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I spent a lot of time just exploring here as the columns are so beautiful and unique that they really need to be experienced to be believed.

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I am guessing you can probably also get here by boat as well as I saw a boat only 20 or so yards off the shore when we were there.

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When you get up close to the columns you will notice they are really coarse to the touch.

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After spending some time exploring you can head back the way you came.

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Do make sure that if you go you protect these rock formations as they are old historical spots that should be preserved.

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All in all, this is a great place to explore, one that I highly recommend if you are in the area, and you have 4WD. Let me know if you have been in the comments and what you thought. Also, if you are looking for more places to explore near Bishop then check out this video.


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  • sandyh

    Thanks for showing these pics and talking about this area. We have a jeep and if we are ever anywhere near there I would love to see it in person. Great pics!

    • Sweet, yea it is a super unique spot that most people don’t get to see. Be sure to check it out if you are in the area!

  • wolfi

    Thank you so much – especially for thesse fantastic pictures.

    These columns are really a sign of nature’s powers!
    I will link on German travel sites to your blog if you don’t mind!
    There are many fans there of the USA’s wonderful nature sites, especially in the South West and West.

    • Thanks for the comment and glad you liked the post!

  • Jody

    How far of a hike would you say it is from the 4WD dirt road down to the columns? I will be in the area next month but don’t have access to a 4WD vehicle.

    • I would skip it if you don’t have 4WD, plenty of other fun stuff to do around the area. The road in is probably at least 2-3 miles each way. I am not 100% on that though just basing it on memory

  • Pamela Gisel Reyes Soria

    Hi. I was trying to get here today and found out about the 4wd. Will a 2wd be ok to drive through the dirt road before reaching the beach?

    • When I went, it would have been highly unlikely for a 2WD car to make it to the beach. I am not sure about the current road conditions though but I would still think it would be not advisable for 2WD.

      • Pamela Gisel Reyes Soria

        Darn it. Ok thanks Josh.

  • Erin McCall Lusignan

    Looks amazing, thanks for sharing! I have 4WD but am not experienced with it. Is it pretty basic 4WD or do I need to be experienced? Thanks

    • It was basic when I went, but it does depend on the recent weather and how it affects the road. I went last July. Hope that helps!

      • Erin McCall Lusignan

        Thanks! Headed up this weekend, hopefully the roads aren’t too bad with the winter we just had!

  • Kendra Leigh

    I really appreciate your insight and sense of adventure. I’ve followed a few of the trails you’ve suggested and they’ve all been great. I especially loved the Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout Trail. Where is the next place you’re aiming to go?

    • Thanks for the comment, I am spending some time in Sierra Nevadas soon, what about you?

      • Kendra Leigh

        I’m taking my kids camping in Kings Canyon and Sequoia in a few weeks. Then I’m going to take some friends up to the Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout Trail. I’m also hoping to get up to Lassen for the solar eclipse in August. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the snow to melt.

        • Oh man, that is an awesome collection of stuff to do! Can you see the eclipse from Lassen, for some reason I thought it was further North?

          • Kendra Leigh

            From what I’ve read you can still see a partial eclipse in California. But to see the true eclipse you’d have to be in Oregon.
            I’m hoping to see it from the Manzanita Creek trail in the North-West corner of the park.

          • That seems like a great spot as it would be pretty dark out there. Super cool!