Alabama Hills is a tract of land near the Eastern Sierra Nevada range, west of Lone Pine, CA, that is characterized by a variety hills and curious rock formations. The land is protected and managed by the Bureau of Land Management for conservation and public recreation.
The Alabama Hills were our first official boondocking experience during our new life as full-time U.S. travelers. Therefore, we were very uncertain what to expect during our stay.
While our campsite was out amongst nothing but rocks and nature, we were only 3 to 4 miles from the little town of Lone Pine. Thus, we were able to camp surrounded by nothing but pure nature, while being close enough to every convenience we could possibly need. We thought this was ideal for our first boondocking foray due to our lack of experience.
Since our stay was during the winter season (early January), there was virtually no one around. We saw a fair amount of day trippers who drove down the main road (Movie Road) and the surrounding area. However, we were one of the only overnight campers in the entire area at the time. We thought this made the trip a bit more of a “wilderness experience.”
We arrived in Lone Pine around mid-day on January 2nd, 2017.
After reading a review of the area on Campendium which suggested to first locate a campsite with your tow vehicle before bringing your rig into the area, we decided that sounded like the best course of action. We left our rig in an empty lot in town and drove our Cherokee into the hills to scout for an ideal location. We were glad that we followed this tip, as this approach was very handy.
After finding a beautiful, secluded location beside a large rock formation, that would be accessible to our 36ft RV and also offered great data connectivity, we drove back into town to retrieve the rig and begin the fun.
The Alabama Hills as are a particularly awesome location not only for the beautiful Eastern Sierra scenery but because there is no shortage of fun activities to be found. The rocks and hills of the area offer numerous opportunities for hiking, climbing, scrambling, mountain biking, and off-roading. The challenge for us during our stay was remaining focused on work during the days that we were working while there was so much fun to be had right outside of our windows.
The area of geological formations known as the “the bowling ball and pins” offer particularly great scrambling and exploring opportunities. The views of the valley and Eastern Sierra from the top of these hills are well worth the climb.
I had a blast spending an afternoon climbing around and exploring this area.
The bowling ball and pins
Unfortunately, during our stay, the area was undergoing an uncharacteristically cold and rainy period, which limited our opportunities for fully enjoying all that the hills had to offer. This was not entirely bad for us, as we spent these rainy days at work on our laptops anyway. Even still, the moody atmosphere of the landscape created by the rainy weather made for some terrific office views.
After a few days of rain, the weather cleared, and we had the time for a nice long hike to see the area’s most famous sights. We hiked the infamous “Arch Loop Trail” and saw Mobius Arch and the “Eye of Alabama,” as well as some other fun spots.
The Alabama Hills are particularly famous for their long history with Hollywood. Hundreds of Western films have been shot at the location, as well as scenes from Iron Man, Django Unchained, and Tremors. This is where the main access to the location, Movie Rd, derives its name. There is even a film history museum in the nearby town of lone pine, and guided tours of the different filming locations in the area are offered throughout the year.
Our visit to the Alabama Hills was unfortunately cut shorter than we would have liked by flash flood warnings as a result of all of the rain in the area. Not wanting to take any chances, we heeded the warnings and made sure that we moved out of the flood warning zone. In the following days, we were grateful that we took the warnings seriously and got out of the area because we heard reports that flooding did occur, and quite severely.
We highly recommend the Alabama Hills, whether for a day visit, weekend camping trip, or boondocking stay. It is a beautiful, natural setting with a diverse assortment of recreational opportunities to enjoy. The next time that we are back in the Eastern Sierra region, we plan to revisit the Alabama Hills to further explore all that they have to offer.
We’ll leave you with a selection of a few more photos from our stay. Enjoy!
Have any experiences at the Alabama Hills of your own to share? We would love to hear! Feel free to share your experience in the comments below! Likewise, if you have any specific questions about our visit, feel free to ask!