4.5
11 votes

Alabama Hills Recreation Area

Lone Pine, California USA

Free
Free to Visit
Open Now
Wed 12a-11:59p
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    not Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • No Public
    Restrooms
  • Outdoor
    Seating

“An area well-known from many movies!”

Roam a filming location for TV shows and movies since the 1920s. Alabama Hills are a "range of hills" and rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Owens Valley, west of Lone Pine in Inyo County, California.Though geographically considered a range of hills, geologically they are a part of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  The rounded contours of the Alabamas contrast with the sharp ridges of the Sierra Nevada to the west. Though this might suggest that they formed from a different orogeny, the Alabamas are the same age as the nearby Sierras. The difference in wear can be accounted for by different patterns of erosion. Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, towers several thousand feet above this low range, which itself is 1,500 feet (460 m) above the floor of Owens Valley. However, gravity surveys indicate that the Owens Valley is filled with about 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of sediment and that the Alabamas are the tip of a very steep escarpment. This feature may have been created by many earthquakes similar to the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake which, in a single event, caused a vertical displacement of 15–20 feet. There are two main types of rock exposed at Alabama Hills. One is an orange, drab weathered metamorphosed volcanic rock that is 150-200 million years old. The other type of rock exposed here is 82-85 million year old biotite monzogranite which weathers to potato-shaped large boulders, many of which stand on end due to spheroidal weathering acting on many nearly vertical joints in the rock.  Dozens of natural arches are among the main attractions at the Alabama Hills. They can be accessed by short hikes from the Whitney Portal Road, the Movie Flat Road and the Horseshoe Meadows Road. Among the notable features of the area are: Mobius Arch, Lathe Arch, the Eye of Alabama and Whitney Portal Arch. The Alabama Hills are a popular filming location for television and movie productions, especially Westerns set in an archetypical "rugged" environment. Since the early 1920s, 150 movies and about a dozen television shows have been filmed here, including Tom Mix films, Hopalong Cassidy films, The Gene Autry Show, and The Lone Ranger. Classics such as Gunga Din, Springfield Rifle, The Violent Men (1955 film), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), the Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott "Ranown" westerns, part of How the West Was Won, and Joe Kidd. More recent productions such as Tremors and Joshua Tree, were filmed at "movie ranch" sites known as Movie Flats and Movie Flat Road. In Gladiator, actor Russell Crowe rides a horse in front of the Alabamas, with Mount Whitney in the background, for a scene presumably set in Spain. Star Trek Generations was filmed here in addition to Overton, Nevada and Paramount Studios. This range was one of the filming locations for Disney's Dinosaur. More recently, many parts of the films Iron Man and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were filmed here.

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Reviewed by
Chini Tiongco

  • 211 Reviews
  • 84 Helpful
August 24, 2014
Rated 5.0

Amazing scenery! The rock formations were beautiful. We camped here for a day and had an overnight. During the day, we went hiking and played our made up game on who will get to see some formations on the rocks. It was fun and it will really make your imaginative. There were amazing views and make sure to bring your camera. At night, the experience became more fantastic because of the beautiful stars. It was surreal because the stars were so plenty unlike what you see when you're at the city and the stars were bigger too. It is one of my memorable stargazing.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Nancy Sewell

  • 1,228 Reviews
  • 148 Helpful
October 23, 2016

Great place for boondocking or cheap camping! First thing, hit the local visitor center for some information and to fill up on fresh water tank. The center is located just south of Lone Pine and provides a lot of info for the area. They have a fresh potable water spigot right out front.

The rangers can give great information on where camping is allowed. There is an organized BLM campground called Tuttle Creek Campground for 5 bucks a night which has a dump station, garbage and a camp host. It’s located outside of the hills area though. There are many dispersed camping spots available for free use off of Movie Road.

The beauty of this extremely remote looking boondocking location is it’s not really remote. It just seems that way because you are hidden between the Sierras and a small set of foothills. So you are completely separated from the busy highway 395 and the town of Lone Pine only a few miles away.

Directions in are easy. When you see the only stop light in town this is the intersection for Whitney Portal Road, turn onto it and head up toward the mountains, after a few miles turn right onto Movie Road. You’ll soon start to see several dry camping spots to choose from and many little roads that lead into the rocks to hidden spots. The main road is fairly wide, flat and hard packed.

There are fantastic views of the mountains including Mount Whitney, tallest peak in the lower 48 states. The contrast of the round, brown boulders of the Alabama Hills and the jagged bluish-gray snowy Sierra Nevada range made for some unique scenes, and an awesome photography background.

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Reviewed by
bwetherell

  • 11 Reviews
  • 9 Helpful
February 18, 2015
Rated 4.0

Incredible rock formations! There's a great tour you can do of various old western movie set locations via car at http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ca/pdf/pdfs/bishop_pdfs.Par.33502.File.dat/movie_road_tour_brochure.pdf

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Alabama Hills Recreation Area

Lone Pine, California
USA

Hours

Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards not Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Private Parking
  • Yes Parking

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