Bishop Field Office

The Alabama Hills

Community

On May 24, 1969, the BLM dedicated nearly 30,000 acres of public land west of Lone Pine, CA, as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. Management plans are being considered that will eventually include a scenic trail system that people may walk and enjoy this geologic phenomena at a leisurely pace.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group care for this area with the goal of preserving the hills in as close as natural state as possible for the enjoyment of future generations. This area hosts numerous and varied types of recreation. Motor touring, photography, rock climbing, exploring natural arches and viewing the swaths of wildflowers that bloom every spring are just a few of the over 40 activities that take place here.

Heritage

Long before Euro-Americans arrived, the area served as a focal point for Native American ceremony and subsistence activities.   Evidence of plant gathering and processing, hunting, occupation, interment of the deceased, and traditional religious practices have been well documented. Archaeological data suggests that the region was utilized for greater than 10,000 years. Even today the Alabama Hills are important to the local Paiute tribe who continue to carry out many of the same activities that their ancestors once did.

Image of Confederate warship "The Alabama"The hills were named after the C.S.S. Alabama, a Confederate warship responsible for wreaking havoc during the Civil War. Prospectors sympathetic to the Confederate cause named their mining claims after the Alabama and eventually the name stuck.

Beginning in 1920 Hollywood filmmakers began to take an interest in the area, since then over 400 movies have been filmed here. The area continues to attract film crews, benefiting the local economy. Movie Road Touring Brochure - Download this brochure and take a nostalgic drive through the Alabama Hills visiting film sites from movie greats like "How the West Was Won"! (PDF 3.2MB)Old image from a Hopalong Cassidy film shot in the Alabama HillsAccessible 508 version available.

The outstanding features and environment of the Alabama Hills have attracted movie makers from all over the world. Since the early 1920's, movie stars such as Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger, have been shooting it out with outlaws. Classics such as Gunga Din, Yellow Sky, and How the West was Won, were filmed at sites now known as "Movie Flats". 

The 1990 Sci-Fi classic Tremors was filmed almost entirely on location in the Alabama Hills. During 1993 portions were filmed for Maverick. A massive set was built in the Alabama's formations and filming continued for three weeks. Some movies filmed here more recently have been Star Trek Generations, Gladiator, Iron Man, and Django Unchained

The Alabamas serve as the backdrop to many commercial and still advertisements each year in a huge variety. Clothing ads, camping gear, electronics, and vehicle ads to name a few.

Every October the community of Lone Pine hosts the "Lone Pine Film Festival". They feature guest speakers from previous films, actors, guided bus tours and photo plaques mounted at the original movie site locations for the public to enjoy.

The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History opened in October 2006 and celebrates and preserves the long and varied film history of Lone Pine, Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra.

Take a Hike

Father and Daughter take an early morning hike on the Mobius Arch Trail in the Alabama Hills.Photographers come from all over the country to photograph this amazing view, and the Mobius Arch is a bonus.  Whether you are here for the Sierra views, identifying native plant life or photography, this area offers a variety of activities.  The Mobius Arch Loop Trail was created in partnership with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group.  Directions to the trailhead:

  • 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 immediately on your left.
  • You will see markers on both on the left and right sides of this parking area. You can begin your arch walk at either trail head.
The loop hike takes approximately 20 min. round trip and the terrain is hilly.

Image of photographers capturing first light on Mt. Whitney through Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills.Sustainability

The rounded contours of the Alabamas form a sharp contrast between the glacially chiseled ridges of the Sierra Nevada. This leads the viewer to believe the Alabama's are almost antique in nature. Actually, both geologic features were the result of uplifting that occurred 100 million years ago. The hills have been subject to a type of erosion known as chemical weathering. When the hills were still covered with soil, percolating water rounded the granite blocks and sculpted the outstanding formations you see today.