One of my favorite places near Mammoth Lakes, CA is the Crowley Lake columns. I wrote about them briefly here, but now that I’m back at my brothers place for five weeks while he and his wife are in New Zealand, I decided to go back and explore them again (this time without a bike…)
Before heading out, I did a bit of research to determine how the columns were formed and here’s what I found:
According to researchers, the Crowley Lake Columns were formed about 760,000 years ago by a cataclysmic explosion that was 2,000 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens. This explosion partially formed the Mammoth Lakes area as we know it today. As snow fell over the hot ash, it melted and the resulting pools of water began to boil (the ash was that hot!) The steam from the cold snow/hot ash combination created a sort of convention that slowly converted the ash into pipe-like columns. Erosion-resistant minerals cemented the structures into place and helped preserve them for thousands and thousands of years.
If you get a chance to check these columns out, I highly recommend it. They’re pretty spectacular!