Alabama Hills
Bike Trails and Tours > Alabama Hills (CA) 
About 2 miles west of Lone Pine, California.
This 30,000-acre area received its name from a Confederate warship responsible for wreaking havoc on northern shipping during the Civil War. Prospectors sympathetic to the Confederate cause named their mining claims after the C.S.S. Alabama, and eventually the name stuck to these unique hills. The rounded, weathered contours of the Alabamas form a sharp contrast with the crisply-sculpted ridges of the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. Unlike the Sierra peaks, the Alabama Hills’ granite rock has been etched by wind and water, creating rounded and soft-looking boulders and leaving desert varnish—a mottled black coating of iron and manganese compounds—on many of the rocks. The scenic rock formations have been the setting for many commercials and movies, including “The Shadow” and “How the West Was Won.” These geologic features also lure rock climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers, and several streams in the area attract anglers.
From 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. Whitney Portal and Movie Roads also intersect with numerous other dirt roads and trails that provide access to the hills.
Visitor Activities
Mountain biking, hiking, movie location sightseeing, technical rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing, and scenic drives.
Special Features
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. In contrast, the Sierras were weathered by the continual freezing and thawing typical of higher altitudes.Wildflowers bloom earlier in the Alabama Hills than in the nearby Sierras. Desert paintbrush, prairie smokes, and lowly penstemons are likely to be spotted in May and June along the arid hillsides. Lucky springtime visitors may also encounter male sage grouse gathering in open areas and “strutting” as part of their mating ritual.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
No fees, although donations are encouraged to maintain the area.
This site is wheelchair-accessible.
Camping and Lodging
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.
Food and Supplies
No supplies or facilities are located on-site. The nearest sources are in Lone Pine.
First Aid
No first aid is available on-site. The nearest hospital is located in Lone Pine.
Additional Information
The Alabama Hills are very hot in the summer and snow is possible in the winter. However, at any time of the year, visitors can find inclement weather in the area. The best times to visit the Alabamas are fall, winter, and spring. No matter what time of year, visitors should remember to bring water. Most of the Alabamas are accessible only by dirt roads. Some of the softer roads require four-wheel-drive capability. The main county road, Movie Road (located off Whitney Portal Road, about 2.5 miles west of Lone Pine), is maintained for passenger vehicles. Vehicle and mountain bike use is restricted to existing routesThe Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce on Main Street in Lone Pine and the Interagency Visitor Center, located 2 miles south of Lone Pine on U.S. Highway 395, provide additional information on the area. The Lone Pine Chamber also has information about annual events such as the Lone Pine Film Festival and the Wild Wild West Race for runners.
Contact Information
BLM - Bishop Field Office
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100
Bishop, CA 93514
Tel: (760) 872-5000               

Alabama Hills Photo

The Alabama Hills attract campers, hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers, as well as filmmakers, who have used the scenic rock formations as the setting for numerous movies and commercials. (James Pickering, BLM California State Office)

Alabama Hills Map