Fort Rock, with its spectacular wavecut cliffs, is a part of
the Fort Rock Basin Maar Field.
It is a tuff ring 1,370 m (4,500 ft) in diameter and 60 m (200
ft) high at its crest. The present crater floor is 6 to 12 m (20
to 40 ft) above the floor of the lake basin.
The most recent high stand of Fort Rock Lake occurred around
23,000 years ago (20,000 to 18,000 C-14 yrs B.P.) and a shallow
lake was still present about 13,400 years ago (11,500 C-14 yrs
B.P.). The south side of the Fort Rock tuff ring has been breached
by waves of pluvial Fort Rock Lake, allowing easy access to the
crater. Wave-cut benches have been cut into the ring, the most
prominent lies at an elevation of 4,430 ft.
The remnants of the tuff ring are nearly entirely within Fort
Rock State Park which includes rest rooms and a picnic area.
A mile to the west lies Beggers Heel Butte which is a eroded
remnant of a small tuff cone. Fort Rock Cave is located on a former
terrace which pluvial Fort Rock Lake cut into the cone. The cave
was excavated in the 1930s and again in the 1960s. The early excavations
yielded a large cache of well-preserved sagebrush-bark sandals
from beneath a layer of ash from the eruption of Mt. Mazama (Crater Lake). Later excavations revealed
a small hearth and a few associated stone tools at the base of
the cultural deposit that were dated at about 16,000 years old
(13,200 C14 yrs B.P.).