Located in Inyo County on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Mountains, you will find the Alabama Hills. If you live around Los Angeles, a short three hour drive out of the city will get you to one of the most stunning places in California.
The rock formations are incredible. Both the Alabamas and the Sierras resulted from a cataclysmic uplifting of the earth’s crust about 100 million years ago. Millennia of wind, snow, and wind-blown sand have shaped the unusual rounded formations seen in the Alabamas.
The Alabama Hills appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows starting in the 1920s and continuing to now, mostly American Westerns. Movies like Star Trek V and VII, Deep Space 9, Tremors, Gladiator and Dinosaur all found the perfect backdrop within the Alabama Hills.
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. During winter the mountains are covered in fresh snow.
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.
There are no fees, although donations are encouraged to maintain the area.
As featured in the episode, if you are unfamiliar with the quaint area of Lone Pine, The Alabama Hills Cafe is a good place to start if you want to grab a quick bite. – Alabama Hills Café – 111 W Post, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Address and Directions to the Start of the Alabama Hills
When you get to Lone Pine, proceed west on Whitney Portal Road for about 2.5 miles and turn right (north) on Movie Road. Continue for about 1 mile to Movie Flat, where many films have been shot.
The nearest BLM campground is Tuttle Creek Campground, with 85 sites but no potable water. To reach the campground, travel 3.5 miles west of Lone Pine on Whitney Portal Road. Turn left (south) on Horseshoe Meadows Road and travel about 1.5 miles to the signs for the campground on the right. Lone Pine Campground, an Inyo National Forest campground, is located about 6 miles west of Lone Pine on Whitney Portal Road. County campgrounds are also available in the area. Contact the Inyo County Parks and Recreation Department, (760) 878-2411, for additional information. Lone Pine has several motels.