The Wild Wild Wild West: Lone Pine & The Alabama Hills.
A wild adventure took us to Lone Pine California for 5 nights, 6 days. We found this location sort of by accident, if anything is ever truly an accident. We were heading south; moving from the Sacramento area to San Diego and looking for a few epic stopping points along the journey to our new Southern California homestead.
I found this location while scoping out free to cheap BLM camping near the desert of Southern California. Popped up on my Pinterest page one evening was this gorgeous shot of snow capped rugged mountains and out of this world boulder rock formations. I explored further and it guided me to the town of Lone Pine California to a place called the Alabama hills.
The Alabama hills is a destination for cinematographers and movie buffs alike as hundreds of movies from the 1940’s to present were filmed at these iconic desert meets the mountain locations.
There are 2 camping options there; The Alabama hills recreation area and Tuttle creek campground. Both are owned by the bureau of land management (BLM) in which you can camp up to 14 consecutive days for free to upwards of 5$ a night. Rates go up a bit at tuttle creek during high season April-September.
We decided to stay at the Tuttle creek campground as it seemed less busy than the Alabama hills recreation land. Also for that 5$ a night you got pit toilets, garbage cans, fire ring and a picnic table. The other location is authentic bare bones boondocking. Both are wonderful options.
Since it was off season, February- the water and sewage dump station were not available. We packed in all we needed; water, food and propane to have a comfortable stay.
We posted up in site #26 towards the back of the campground. It had absolutely gorgeous, unobstructed views of the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The grounds were maybe 10% full of campers, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
The first couple nights the weather behaved. It would be in the high 50’s-low 60’s during the day. The evenings were another story; 27-38*. We traveled in a camper van with heat, which made those evening temps more manageable. But nonetheless, it got cold!
This is a interesting landscape! It is a valley that sits right between the Sierra Nevada mountains and Death Valley national park. The location is the dry side of the Sierra mountain range. Very low humidity, and dry sweeping winds that chap your face and lips raw in a matter of days.
We were able to work from our campsite. The Verizon signal was decent and the wifi was very good. On our days off we played at the Alabama Hills recreation area and did some lovely hikes with our dog Gypsy. The day we hiked, was probably the nicest day we were there, almost warm! We hiked the trail to the famous arch that framed Mount Whitney. There are tons of little arches forming too. It’s fun to scope out the landscape and see if you can spot any arches in the rocks; large and small.
The last 2 nights of our stay, a bitter cold, unforgiving windstorm rolled in. It shook our van all night, and on the second night it froze our propane lines. We all dog piled up with wool blankets to stay warm. We ran out of heat, and our van got down to 48* at night. In the morning we had to cook breakfast outside in the 30* temps.
The fun part of the windstorm was that we watched the 80’s classic “Tremors” while the wind howled and shook our van. Tremors was filmed right at the place we camped and explored in the Alabama hills area.
By Friday morning we were ice cold and sleep deprived. We had a wonderful stay, however it was time to head further south to warmer temperatures.
On our way out of Lone Pine we stopped to get some comfort food at the Alabama Hills bakery and cafe. The cafe got great reviews and didn’t disappoint! Decided to splurge a bit, ordered the breakfast burrito and the peach-berry coffee cake. It was a great way to end a wonderful adventure through the rugged, eastern tip of the infamous Sierra Nevada mountain range.
No wonder so many old west flicks were filmed here. By the end I felt like a real modern day cowgirl exploring the final frontiers of the west.