Boondocking Site Review – Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA
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 April 2015
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 for folks needing internet signal both Verizon & ATT are veeery iffy/spotty so you might need to scope out a few spots before you find a usable spot (or camp at nearby $5/night Tuttle Creek that has excellent signal). 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, veeerrry “iffy” Verizon & ATT signals. ATT seems marginally better than Verizon, but most spots are fickle with signal bouncing back and forth between 4G and nothing at all. We were able to get a usable data signal with our Wilson Sleek booster and Paddle (directional) antenna, but some spots have no signal at all. For those who need it nearby scenic Tuttle Creek Campground is only $5/night, very scenic and has excellent signal.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
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.
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
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!!!
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!
again and again for me too! Love this place!
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.
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.
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..
Glad you’re enjoying the blog, even all the way from Vienna! That’s a tad more than a hop and a skip away 🙂
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.
Yeah, the rocks remind me often of Joshua Tree too. There is some climbing here, but for some reason doesn’t seem as popular.
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!
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.
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
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.
Well, enjoy the visit! Should be a fine time to go.
Richard Oliveria says
looks nice but I am ready for Boondocking in the TREES. Enough Rocks already.
TREES are just up the road at Mammoth Lakes if you want them. Lots of boondocking in the forest on the east side of 395 there.
Richard Oliveria says
We have just arrived in Yuma to spend about 3 days, teeth etc. We were going to try your Ogilby Rd. B.D. area but it is just tooooooo hot so we are staying at a Passport America park right in Old Yuma area. Boondocking would have required running the Gen Set all day long. no thanks.
Yup, WAY too hot to boondock down there right now. We are fair-weather boondockers only. Once it gets too hot (or too cold) we move on.
Richard Oliveria says
Going to try Dr. Rubio this time but I think I will just call him direct w/o Dayo. what do ya think?