First Visits to Alabama Hills are filled with surprises and incredible views
Lone Pine CA, June 8, 2023 – In full transparently, I am almost ashamed that it has taken me 10 years to go see Alabama Hills. For years I have shared news, watched others share movie like settings on Instagram and just never found interest in visiting what looked like a very hot and baron place. However in June 2023 we had the opportunity to do a road trip that would pass by on Highway 395, through Lone Pine California, and decided to add Alabama Hills to our itinerary for if nothing else a personal image for the magazine. What I discovered was a playground of mysteries and stunning views no matter which direction I explored.
Pulling onto the Whitney Portal road in Lone pine, we quickly started to see one of the reasons people love Alabama hills recreational rea. the views just seem to get bigger as you approach the entry sign. With Mt Whitney Portal sitting at the end of the road the access point to Alabama hills is we ll used recreation hub. Still at this point Alabama hills looks like a baron desert with rounded rocks.
Stopping at the first pull off as we approached the Alabama hills recreational area provided us an opportunity to grab a free map and brochure of the region and plan out our short visit. Quickly learning about the movie history of the region (now with over 400 films since the 1920’s) and some of the geological features to keep our eyes out for on our trip we moved up the road to start our travel adventure on Movie road.
Movie Highlights on Movie road
You can easily start geeking out as you drive along movie road. Lone Ranger canyon? I remember those episodes, childhood memories start flooding back. Tremors? A classic from my early years. Some of the movie spots i was unfamiliar with but no matter the fact that you were catching the view, made a difference as we reviewed and scrambled among the canyons.
Mobius Arch Loop
Of course the most photographed spot on Alabama hills most likely is Mobius Arch which roughly a 1.5 miles from the start of movie road. Upon our arrival late on a Sunday afternoon the crowded parking lot told us this was the spot. We instead drove down and around on to the next road allowing us to come in from the east side of the loop instead.
Hot an baron, well we were not wrong about that. Even in this mild summer we are having in 2023 the hot sun backed the ground and we quickly found ourselves looking for little nooks and crannies for shade as we began to walk on these granite like rounded dome rocks. each with its own photographic highlight up against the Whitney portal backdrop.
This route was a great access point to the loop as the trail meanders through a great set of rocks all with highlight views. As a matter of fact the hour we spent there we never did finish the entire loop or see Mobius Arch. Instead we found no crowds on these great rock highlights and vistas.
Day use or Camping Alabama Hills
Of course we were only on a day trip but there is overnight camping available on Alabama hills locations.
The best place to camp when you visit the Alabama Hills is at the nearby campgrounds, all within a few miles of Movie Road. This includes the BLM Tuttle Creek Campground , the Inyo National Forest Lone Pine Campground and the Inyo County Portuguese Joe Campground.
Camping outside of a campground in designated campsites requires extra time and preparation to make sure impacts are minimal to this special place. A great source for tips to reduce your impact when dispersed camping is ESSRP.org/camping. Approved camping areas are clearing marked.
To control human waste, six porta potties have been placed in the Alabama Hills. Please either use these restrooms or pack out your solid human waste using a portable waste system (RV toilet, wag bag, portable toilet, etc.).
First Timer Tips For Alabama Hills National Scenic Area
- Bring Lots of Water
- Plan enough time to see the places you have read about or seen in movies. Walking is part of the adventure
- Bring a camera
- Hats, and sunscreen
- Spread-out, don’t just follow the crowds. Most points have multiple direction entry points.
- Drive slow.