If You Like Open Camping, Alabama Hills is the Place

Rollin’ with Russ and Lori
By Russ and Lori Tice

The Alabama Hills are sure to be some of the most unique, open, clean, and free camping areas you can find in California. Russ and Lori passed through Lone Pine on our way home from the Sierras. About mid-town is Whitney Portal Road. Whitney Portal Road is not at a signal light, so watch for it. West of Lone Pine on this road, you will approach majestic Mount Whitney. Just a short drive up, you come to the Alabama Hills.

Camping dispersed, operated by The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, is the BLM Alabama Hills Recreation Area. This entire area is famous for many television and movies that were filmed here. You may happen upon a film crew even today. Classic television such as Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, The Gene Autry Show, and countless others were filmed here. Classic movies such as Gunga Din, Bad Day at Black Rock, and Springfield Rifle filmed there, some newer films continue to be shot on that location. Portions of Dinosaur, Star Trek Generations, Iron Man, and Gladiator had scenes filmed there.

So, how did Alabama Hills get its name? The Alabama Hills were named for a ship, The CSS Alabama. During the Civil War, miners in the area sympathetic to the Confederacy named some of their claims after the CSS Alabama after it was sunk. It looks like the name just stuck for the entire area.

If you like open camping, this is the place. We are only talking about a three-hour drive from the high desert to Lone Pine. From Lone Pine you arrive at Alabama Hills in just a couple of miles. The area is well marked and camping can be along any one of several dirt roads. Dirt roads yes, but in extremely good condition. There are few washboard areas at this printing and they are minor. Russ and Lori wouldn’t hesitate to take any size rig in there. Take in what you take out, whatever RV type you choose must be fully self-contained. Bring your water in with you. For us boondockers, camping is a healthy 14-day limit.

Camp where you like, but be sure to camp only in pre-used (cleared out) sites. Protecting the existing environment is crucial. Using only existing sites protects the surrounding vegetation and ecology of the area. Looking around as Russ and Lori did during their stay; the entire area is absolutely pristine right now. Campers have done an excellent job of keeping Alabama Hills free of any camping debris or trash.

Part of the unique and spectacular experience here is that you have Mount Whitney right next to you. The entire mountain range is awe inspiring. Camping can be an easy drive right in, or opt for more challenging fourwheel- drive sites up in the millions- of-years-old granite rock formations. Supplies needed are very close in Lone Pine. Bishop is only about 60 miles north from Lone Pine as well.



Camp where you like at the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, but be
sure to camp only in cleared out sites. Protecting the existing environment
is crucial. PHOTO BY RUSS TICE


Let’s talk about the weather. Those high mountains add to the suspense of weather changes. It can go from perfectly still to quite windy in a short period of time. Mornings are totally gorgeous, appearing as a representation of God’s gift of mountains. The splash of color changes from dawn till dusk are like no place else.

There are some other campgrounds locally some of you may want to consider if cell service is a requirement for you. Russ and Lori experienced very poor cell reception when in the Alabama Hills camping areas.

Please visit the Lone Pine Film History Museum! Not only is the museum rich in local filming history, you can get a free self-guided Movie Road Touring Brochure at the Visitor Center. Western History folks will love this as an added bonus to their camping. Camp on a real honest to goodness movie set, head to Alabama Hills, and Let’s Get Rollin’!

To contact Russ and Lori, email them at Russ.Lori.Rollin@gmail.com.