The Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills, Arch, Mount Whitney

Alabama Hills Arch and Mount Whitney

The Alabama Hills is located west of Lone Pine off of Whitney Portal Road. To get to Lone Pine, you have to travel on US 395 in Owens Valley. Lone Pine is approximately 58 miles south of Bishop on US 395.

In 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area.

The Alabama Hills got its name from a Confederate warship responsible for wreaking havoc to northern shipping during the Civil War. Prospectors sympathetic to the Confederate cause, named their mining claims after the Alabama and eventually the name stuck to these unique hills.

Photographers come from all over the world to photograph the amazing view, and the Alabama Hills Arch is a bonus.  The Alabama Hills Nature Trail Walk was created in partnership with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group.  Directions to the trail-head:

  • Take Hwy 395 to Lone Pine.
  • Turn west (at the stop light) onto Whitney Portal Road, drive 2.5 miles to Movie Road, turn right.
  • After 1.5 miles you will come to a “Y” in the road.
  • Go right and pull into the dirt parking area on your left (36N36’34”/118W7’31”).

You will see the trail sign on the left side of this parking area; this is where you begin your arch walk. This is not the directions for the arch shown above, that arch isn’t off of Movie Road. I will give you directions to that arch later.

The outstanding features and environment of the Alabama Hills have attracted movie makers, commercial companies and tourists from all over the world. Since the early 1920’s, movie stars such as Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Lash La Rue, Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Cisco Kid, Gabby Hayes, Andy Devine, the Lone Ranger, Humphrey Bogart’s Treasure of Sierra Madre and Cary Grant’s Gunga Din had scenes here as well as many many more.

The tons of rounded and multiple shaped rocks all around the Alabama Hills provide numerous locations to photograph and use as a foreground.

Now back to the arch parking lot location mentioned above (approximately 36N36’34”/118W7’31”). When you park and find the trail sign you are almost there, it is only a 10 minute walk to the arch viewing location if you can find it. From the parking lot looking north, locate the stone monument called the nipple, the arch is to the left of the nipple. Remember, you will be looking through the arch and seeing Mount Whitney.

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