Mount Whitney and the Alabama Hills
Mount Whitney and the Alabama Hills
The highest peak in the lower 48
Mt. Whitney, is located just west of Lone Pine, about a one hour drive south of Bishop. Rising to 14,496 feet above sea level, Mt. Whitney towers 10,000′ over the 4,000′ Owens Valley floor. The Mt. Whitney Trail, one of the world’s most popular trails, sees thousands of visitors annually climb the strenuous 10.5 mile trail to the summit.
How to get there
From Bishop, Follow Highway 395 south for approximately 60 miles until you get to the town of Lone Pine. At the only traffic signal, go West on Mt. Whitney Portal road for about 13 miles. At the Whitney portal you will find a refreshingly cool fishing pond, one of the best waterfalls in California, a convenience store with mouthwatering burgers, campgrounds and of course, the trailhead to Mt. Whitney.
Permits are required for ascending the trail and are available on line or at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station in Lone Pine.
Other area campgrounds include Lone Pine Campground, Tuttle Creek Campground or camping in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area, just about half way between Lone Pine and the Whitney Portal.
The Alabama Hills
A Movie Maker’s Paradise
This area has long been used as a film location (think Hop A Long Cassidy, John Wayne, etc.) and is one of the most highly photographed areas in California. Ambling among formations of weathered, golden granite, it’s easy to see why these dry hills and boulders, backed by the snowy Sierra, have attracted movie crews since the film industry’s earliest days. hills and boulders, near the snowy Sierra, have attracted film crews since the earliest days. Check out the Quick Guide to the Alabama Hills here!
Enjoyable for Everyone
The rounded contours of the Alabama Hills appear in stark contrast to the chiseled peaks of the Sierra Nevada and, although considered geographically a separate range of hills, they were formed at the same time and are geologically part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Percolating water rounded the granite blocks and sculpted the many outstanding formations of the Alabama Hills.
The Mobius Arch, the largest and most picturesquely situated of the many natural arches in the Alabama Hills, almost perfectly frames Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous USA. It is the result of chemical weathering when the hills were still covered with soil.
Directions, Parking and Regulations
From the heart of Lone Pine (a beautiful 60 minute drive south of Bishop) go west on Whitney Portal road then, 2.7 miles along, turn right onto Movie Flat road. Many dirt roads and trails intersect with Movie Flat road leading into the hills and among the boulders. Movie Flat road is a graded dirt road maintained for passenger vehicles. Other roads may be sandy and soft requiring 4-wheel drive capability.
Vehicle and mountain bike use is restricted to existing roads and trails and dispersed camping must be done in obvious clearances. Don’t crush the brush!
There are no services or facilities on site and the nearest hospital is located in Lone Pine. Remember inclement weather can occur at any time and often rapidly. Be prepared with layers of protective clothing, a hat and sunscreen for the hot and sunny days. Always bring plenty of water with you.
The Alabama Hills Recreation Area is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is a protected habitat for public enjoyment. For more information visit the BLM website or stop in at the Bishop Visitor Center, at 690 N. Main St in Bishop, for maps to this and other great local destinations.