Exploring around the lovely Alabama Hills

A lovely, large boondocking area with sweeping rock & mountain views just outside Lone Pine, CA on Hwy 395 in central-east California.

Note/ Review updated as of last stay Nov 2013

Location: Movie Road, just off Whitney Portal Road in Lone Pine, CA
Coordinates: Approx. 36.599853N,-118.119378W (= start of Movie Road). Link to map location HERE
Cost: FREE (14-day stay limit)
How We Found It: This is a fairly well-known boondocking spot in the area. We read about the area on other people’s blogs and scoped it out last year while staying at nearby Tuttle Creek.
Nearest Dump/Water: Nearest dump/water at Tuttle Creek BLM just ~1 mile away. $5 charge.

  1. Access – 4.5/5  Pretty easy access for any sized-rig here although as usual a little extra effort is needed to access the best spots:
    Directions -> From the traffic stop in Lone Pine take Whitney Portal Road West ~3 miles until you hit Movie Road, then take a right. The first 1/4 mile or so is paved after which it becomes very wide, firm dirt road. Once you hit the dirt and pass the BLM sign you’re on BLM land.
    Boondocking Spots-> Boondocking spots are scattered all around the dirt roads that lead off in spurs from Movie Road. You’ll see evidence of previously used spots that are cleared and have home-made fire pits. Some of the dirt spurs can be narrow and  very sandy/rough so check out the road before bringing in a big-rig.
  2. Nature – 5/5  Excellent nature spot. You are right in the middle of the Alabama Hills with their fabulous rock formations and have a panoramic back-drop of Mt.Whitney and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lots of interesting dirt trails to explore, hike & bike all around the area.
  3. Isolation – 3.5/5  Pretty good isolation here depending on where you park. The main ding is this is a fairly well-known boondocking area plus it is also on the “tourist route” as the place where lots of old Westerns were filmed. As a result you’ll definitely encounter folks driving around and checking out movie locations or doing the hike to the Mobius Arch. The further you get from the main “movie” run, the more isolated you’ll be.
  4. Pet Friendliness – 5/5  Another fabulous pet spot. You have days-worth of hiking and exploring in the surrounding hills, plus lots of space to hang out in camp. Also this is mostly sandy “scrub” desert with no cactus so it’s easy for paws on the ground.

Overall Rating = 4.4
BONUS ALERT = Camp in the shadow of Mt Whitney within gorgeous rocks and western movie history!

Summary: This ranks up in our books as one of the most scenic boondocking spots around. Located gorgeously in the Alabama Hills you have a backdrop of fabulous rocks with Mt.Whitney and the soaring Sierra Nevada Mountains in the western background. It is fairly easy to access with plenty of space and gorgeous views all around.  Perhaps the only negative about this spot is that it’s fairly well-known on the “tourist loop” as the place to scope out where the old Wild West Movies were made (there is actually a self-guided driving tour of the Alabama Hills in the visitors center), so you will see occasional cars and folks driving by depending on where you park. Also Verizon signal is veeery “iffy” so you might need to scope out a few spots before you find a usable spot. Overall however this is a lightly visited area so you’ll still manage plenty of alone time and the views make it all worthwhile. You are close to Lone Pine and Mt.Whitney which gives lots of opportunities for hiking & exploring movie history past, plus there are miles of interesting dirt trails to hike, bike & explore in the Alabama Hills themselves. Overall an outstanding spot and one we’ll likely come back to again and again.

Extra Info: No water or facilities (nearest dump/water is $5 at nearby Tuttle Creek BLM Campground). Veeeery “iffy” Verizon 3G signal (~1 bar). We were able to get a usable data signal with our antenna/amp, but some spots have no signal at all.

First paved part of Movie Road in the Alabama Hills. BLM sign on the right.

East-side view of our site. You can see a fire ring in the foreground and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.

Front view of our site. The dirt road runs to the right.

View from west-side of our site

Distant view of our rig tucked into the rocks. Can you see it?

View of our “sitting area”

Typical “site” view. Cleared out space with fire ring that shows it’s been used before.

Another great site.

Distant view of another boondocker

And yet another boondocker in a nice, isolated spot

Very approximate map of Alabama Hills boondocking area around Movie Road. Lone Pine is on the right.

Tagged with:
 

20 Responses to Boondocking Site Review – Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA

  1. [...] site or take one of the roads further in for a more adventurous site within the rocks. Check out my review of the area for more [...]

  2. Steve says:

    A very special place and glad you made it there. Though there is one disadvantage to the place and that is when movies are being filmed. When we were there last February, there were two movies being shot at the same time. One, a “GI Joe” type film wasn’t a big issue as all we saw was several modified Black Hawk helicopters occasionally chasing each other around. However, the other movie, “Django Unchained” (why a movie about a slave in the south would have scenes filmed there is beyond me), the producers moved the crew right into where we were camped and started setting up the scenes. Initially, sort of fun (many people thought we were part of the shoot) but, not very private or quiet. They couldn’t kick us out (though it was apparent we weren’t wanted….even though I thought our travel trailer would look good in their movie……), but this lack of privacy eventually “encouraged” us to move on.

    Steve

    • libertatemamo says:

      Wow…I hadn’t even thought of being in the middle of a movie there, but it’s still used as a site, so I guess that makes sense. I could totally see that “encouraging” us to move on too…unless they’re paying for the priviledge of having an RV in the shoot hahah
      Nina

  3. Chuck says:

    Beautiful area, haven’t been there in years but want to take Geri on the entire 395 route. Went to City of Rocks briefly yesterday…beautiful. Will stay there a week first part of Dec afterwe’re done working here in Mimbres. Thanks for your postings, GREAT info!!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      This place reminds me alot of City of Rocks in NM, just on a much larger scale. That’s another spot we simply loved when we were there. Glad you like the postings!
      Nina

  4. again and again for me too! Love this place!

  5. flyfishnevada says:

    Love the shots of the rig! Can’t get enough shots of motorhomes. My wife and I both say, “Living the dream,” every time a MH with a Jeep Wrangler rolls by. Fuels my imagination to see you’re rig parked. Gonna have to explore the area some day. Just far enough from home to make a day trip a long haul but we pass the area a couple times a year on our way to Disneyland.

    On a side note, many time lapse filmmakers use the area for shorts of the night sky, usually through the arches. Tom Lowe’s film “TimeScapes” has scenes from all over the area. If you see someone in the middle of the night with a DSLR, they might be making a time lapse film.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I too love the shots of the rig in the big desert. Something about the majestic size of everything just gets me going :)
      And yes, we saw sime time-lapse images of the area. I toyed a bit w/ longer exposures while I was there, but didn’t get anything I liked. The shots that track the stars are my favorites, but you need special tracker-equipment for that.
      Nina

  6. Bob says:

    Simply awesome. And I guess that’s all I can say.
    Camping vicariously is the reason why I keep stopping by. Thanks for the effort.
    When I clicked on and went to the map link, I was tempted to go to “directions” and see how that would work from Vienna.
    I somehow doubt that that would work..

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog, even all the way from Vienna! That’s a tad more than a hop and a skip away :)
      Nina

  7. [...] Located in the shadow of majestic Mt.Whitney snuggled between cool & wacky rocks with some old Western Movie History thrown in, this is just a fabulous and totally unique boondocking spot. You’ve got 360-degree views, miles of nature to explore and it’s all gloriously FREE. There is no doubt we’ll be back here again. CHECK IT OUT! [...]

  8. rommel says:

    Sorry, I don’t have much experience the way RV’ers have, and I have mostly California as my travel destinations. My job doesn’t allow me to go over ____ miles. But the rock images here remind me so much about Joshua Tree. It’s a wonder why it’s less popular.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, the rocks remind me often of Joshua Tree too. There is some climbing here, but for some reason doesn’t seem as popular.
      Nina

  9. Amy says:

    Just found your blog and love it. We’ve been on the road about two years now and stayed for about 3 months in Lone Pine then came back and did another extended stay. FYI: You can purchase a 6 month pass for the Tuttle Creek Campground at the Visitors Center for about $150 depending on the season. We were able to find Verizon service there and had a gorgeous spot along the creek. Loved it there – minus the not so exciting grocery store. I’m pretty sure we camped in the same spot as you when we first discovered Lone Pine and boondocked for a week or so. (Here’s a link to a picture: http://145squarefeet.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/breaking-the-full-timer-stereotype-rv-living/ ) …. Thanks for sharing your experience. Lone Pine is certainly one of our favorite places!

    • libertatemamo says:

      You’re right!! That looks like exactly the same spot in the Alabama Hills in your blog! How fun!!

      We too loved Tuttle Creek. I’d heard about the LTVA (6-month long-term permit) there, but for some reason I thought it was more expensive (around $300?). Of course with the govt shut-down this week I can’t check, but I’ll have to see if I remember and go check it again later.

      Nina

      • Amy says:

        We were there at the end of the season and I can’t remember if we just paid for three months or purchased the entire six month pass. Regardless, it was well worth it. Lone Pine has the best landscape and the most gorgeous sunsets we’ve seen. We also spent some time fishing in the creek – amazing trout dinners! Can’t wait to go back again one of these days and do some more exploring. – Amy

  10. […] into a private boondocking spot in the zany rocks of the Alabama Hills. I’ve blogged about this area many times before and it’s a go-to stop for us everytime we drive 395. I call it our […]

  11. […] It combines wacky rocks against the backdrop site of majestic Mount Whitney. Simply stunning! Link to Review. Rating = […]

  12. Bill says:

    Hey guys, we’re planning a visit here in May and are very excited. Love your blog and are living through you until the time we can go on the road like you. Keep posting as I cant wait to see where you go next.

    Bill
    http://fulltime.spantz.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.