Owens River Gorge, My New Favorite Place
The Owens River Gorge is a steep 10 mile canyon on the upper Owens River.
The canyon is located at the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Mono County, along the stretch of the river where it exits the Long Valley near its source and enters the north end of Owens Valley.
It’s a long steep hike down into the gorge.
The gorge was formed when the Owens River cut through the Bishop Tuff: a layer of welded ash formed from the eruption of the Long Valley Caldera.
This erosion exposed the tuff layers, including rare columnar rhyolite formations.
The gorge is a popular destination for rock climbing.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power constructed the Long Valley Dam at the head of the Owens River Gorge as part of a hydropower project in 1941, and completely dewatered the 16-km Lower Gorge reach from 1953 to 1991.
The decommissioned Adams Main Power Plant in Owens Gorge.
Beginning in 1991, a limited range of flows has been released to rewater the reach, recreate riparian habitat, and reestablish a brown trout sport fishery while maintaining hydropower diversions.
The hike back up is no picnic but if you bring plenty of water and take it slow, you should be fine.