Surprisingly, it's not that much of a challenge to see the massive fault line - known as the San Andreas Fault - that runs under much of California. The fault line itself runs a distance of more than 800 miles which means there are multiple sections that visitors can drive to. Seeing it in person is nothing like how it's been portrayed in the movies and some would even say it's sobering, considering how powerful its earthquakes have the potential to be.

Another striking thing about visiting the fault line is the fact that its rigid appearance makes it look like one would imagine it to. For those who are geologically inclined, this is how to see it up-close.


What To Know About The San Andreas Fault

The San Andreas Fault starts in an area near the Salton Sea and spans for hundreds of miles through the San Bernardo Mountains to the San Gabriel Mountains before ending just outside of Los Angeles. Contrary to popular belief, it is quite easy to see this monolith of a geological formation and for most of its sections, visitors won't even need a car with four-wheel drive. All that's needed is a sense of direction and, at most, some good hiking boots.

Although the San Andreas Fault has not had an earthquake capable of tearing the ground apart since 1906, it still remains, to this day, one of the most-watched and studied fault lines in the world. While the actual seam left from the fault is challenging to find in some places, there's clear evidence of the fault line in the surrounding nature - including in its jagged, twisted tree and rock formations, as well as in the flora and fauna that has consequently grown around it.

Related: A Visit To Big Basin Redwoods State Park, The Oldest In California

Reaching The San Andreas Fault

There are many ways by which to reach the fault along with plenty of tours that visitors can invest in for the full experience. Some of the easiest ways to see it are via road routes which require little walking in order to reach.


Parkfield can be found slightly north of Frazier Park, and it's estimated that an earthquake occurs here at least once every 150 years. The destination of choice for visitors to the San Andreas Fault will be easily recognizable as a bent bridge. The town of Parkfield sits precariously close to the fault line which doesn't seem to bother the locals very much. Those visiting will find themselves to the eastern side of the San Andreas Fault line and will be able to see the bridge that has undergone five rebuilds due to earthquakes.

Palm Springs

Arguably one of the best, and easiest, places from which to see the San Andreas Fault in Palm Springs. While the seam in the earth here is not as well-defined or dramatic as in other sections, it is where visitors can see water that bubbles up through fissures that created tube-like holes in the earth. This is also where visitors can stand directly on top of the fault line at 1000 Palms Canyon.

Carrizo Plain

Those familiar with aerial views of the San Andreas Fault likely know them from the Carrizo Plain. This can be found between I-5 and U.S. Highway 101 and paints a fairly dramatic picture of how significant this ground fault really is. Occasionally, steam beds can be seen from the air, and the fault line runs partially underneath Soda Lake.


For those looking to see how the San Andreas Fault actually reshaped the upper layer of the earth's crust, they need to look no further than Pinnacles National Park. Interestingly enough, the rocks that can be found here are not native to the area. Rather, they were brought here on the Pacific Plate from an area near Los Angeles. Experts believe that the result came from a massive volcano, Neenach, that was literally ripped in half by the San Andreas Fault roughly 23 million years ago.

Trancos Ridge

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, visitors can hike the Trancos Ridge which is not far from the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Hikers might not notice anything unusual were it not for the features that seemingly don't belong there, such as random gullies, valleys, water beds, and divets that do not run parallel to the trail.

Juan Bautista

The old Spanish mission in Juan Bautista has been subject to a number of tremors and earthquakes which, miraculously, have not brought it down. Today, there's a plaque explaining to visitors the geological significance of the location and noting the slightly-raised earth on which they stand. Thanks to the San Andreas Fault, this early will forever remain slightly higher than the rest of the surrounding area.

Next: Exploring Mono Basin National Forest: The Salt Lake Of California