The town of Lone Pine, aside from being the gateway to Mt. Whitney, also has one big gold star pinned on its bosom to brag about: A Hollywood star. Between the steep, eastern escarpment of the Sierra and the town of Lone Pine are the Alabama Hills. This is the other side of California: the high deserts embraced by endless scenic mountain ranges. Because of its barren beauty - giant granite boulders, windswept grasses, wildflowers and even occasional meandering streams - Alabama Hills have been a constant filming location for the big screen, television, and even video games.
Close to 500 movies have been made here, dating back from 1920 ("Cupid the Cowpuncher" with Will Rogers), all the way to the present ("Adventures in Wild California" in IMAX). Its impressive list contains "Gunga Din" with Carry Grant, Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger, "Rawhide" with Clint Eastwood, "Gunsmoke", "Tremors" (<--- oh this place will just remind you of it!), Star Trek V and VI, G.I. Jane, Gladiator, "Dinosaurs", the list just goes on and on... But in its humble beginnings, it was the western movies and their celluloid heroes that really endeared Alabama Hills to the heart of Hollywood itself.
Can Chris outrun these rocks?
The Alabama Hills was named by local miners after a Confederate warship (responsible for wreaking havoc to northern shipping) during the Civil War. It has nearly 30,000 acres of public land, with "rolls" and columns of smooth granite rocks as far as the eye can see!You'll probably recognize Alabama Hills even if you haven't been to Lone Pine:
See it for yourself! Click the photo above for a 360-degree Virtual Reality view. Drag your mouse to move your own camera! (Opens on separate window and requires Quicktime Player)
This place - Lone Pine, Mt. Whitney and Alabama Hills - has been a magical treat for us. We definitely had both a relaxing and adventurous time here, exploring the town, star gazing on a dark night with a clear sky, hiking and sight-seeing, investigating old mines, rock formations, and scenic off-road routes. If we weren't as determined as we are to get to Death Valley, we would have stayed here longer. Say, six months enough?
As we rode off to the sunset in true western fashion, we tipped our hats off to Mr. Rogers and Mr. Wayne, and in the fading distance, Lone Pine.
Death Valley, here we come!...
Check out these links!
- More pictures of Lone Pine, Mt. Whitney, and Alabama Hills
- List of movies made in Lone Pine
- Alabama Hills in 360-degree Virtual Reality (Courtesy of Don Bain's Virtual Guidebook)
- The most famous rocks in movie-making history