Hot Creek Valley Arch

Hot Creek Valley Arch is a small but nicely formed natural arch located north and east of U.S. 395, between Lee Vining and Bishop, California.

To reach it, proceed three miles south of the junction with California 203 (the road to the resort community of Mammoth Lakes). Turn left (east) on a graded road signposted Hot Creek Hatchery Road. You will come to the turnoff for the California Department of Fish and Game hatchery in 2.3 miles. The parking lot for the Hot Creek Geologic Site of Inyo National Forest, a popular thermal swimmning hole, is an additional 2.3 miles beyond the fish hatchery. The arch is on the right or south side of the road, roughly halfway between the fish hatchery and the geologic site parking lot. Though less than 100 feet from the road, the arch is easy to miss and can only be seen when driving towards the geologic site. The slope on the right becomes more abrupt and there are some columnar juniper or pinyon trees on the right shortly before you reach the arch.

Though adjacent to a large boulder, the arch's legs are freestanding. Although the arch may be on national forest land, it is inaccessible because of a sturdy barbed wire fence. This barrier and the disorienting angle of the slope below make it difficult to gauge the size of the span, which might be anywhere from three to ten feet. It is also difficult to tell from the fence of what the arch is composed. As the arch is in the Long Valley Caldera it could well be rhyolitic material or tuff. Though the road is fairly wide for a graded road, there is no parking turnout. The Hot Creek Valley is very scenic, offering good views of the obsidian-rich Glass Mountains to the east, the Mammoth Mountain section of the Sierra Nevadas to the west, and the creek gorge.

Photo and information from Michael A. Hughes. This arch was reported by Kyle Ross in the Journal of Natural Arch Discoveries as CA-132.

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