One of the activities you can engage in while in Lone Pine is climb Mt. Whitney. The beautiful views and snow capped mountains are breath-taking. It is the highest peak in the lower 48 states of the union. If you are a hiker or climber in California, you have probably had a conversation about this mountain. At a little over 14,000 feet, it is a challenge but one easily conquered when done in groups.
It has been added to my Bucket list. The 22 mile hike is nothing compared to Kilimanjaro which I climbed 12 years go, but it is still a pretty tough altitude to over come.
It is a mountain, so one has to prepare before attempting it. Just because you are an avid hiker does not mean you can actually climb it. Like any other mountain, one must train and prepare for it.
Some of the information I gathered when I found out we would be driving through Lone Pine included how to get a permit to hike it. It's only in California that one has to win a raffle in order to climb a mountain (smile!). Getting the permit is done through a lottery system, which is a red tape by any measure.
The Alabama hills are a unique kind of beautiful. When I look at the hills I see western, art, and never ending rocks. The Alabama hills is where lots of old western films were filmed. They have pamphlets that will tell you exactly where to go to find the famous rocks in those particular movies. I have been here 3 times and every time I go I see a different rock that tells a new story. If you are lucky enough to have a day in Lone pine I would highly suggest taking a little hike or drive and checking out the Alabama Hills. The famous rocks are super hard to find at times but so much fun to look. Its kind of like trying to find waldo. I took my husband and I about 3 hours to find the arch (which I have been to twice before) but when we finally found it, it was well worth the search.
Before you go... Make sure you have a print out of what rocks you are in search of because you will not have service.
I have tried 3 times now and have never been able to get to the top of Mt. Whitney. This is a life goal for me and I will one day. But, A day trip can be made easily by hiking to the lake. This view is breathtaking and its a great place to stop and have a pinic. You can even fish!
Located within the Alabama Hills is the Movie Flats area. North of the main Alabama Hills, this area had many movies filmed on location, here. "High Sierra", "Gunga Din", "Rawhide", "Maverick", and "How the West Was Won" were some of the movies that had many scenes filmed here.
Alabama Hills, California that is, stretches out for miles, parallel to the town of Lone Pine, CA. Only 2 1/2 miles to the west of town, this is a must see when driving Hwy 395. If you ever wondered why a lot of westerns and even other movies such as Star Trek and Gladiator have a similiar look in some scenes, it is because they were filmed at the Alabama Hills. The name was given to the area by gold seeking Southern sympathizers during the Civil War in 1864 to honor and celebrate a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama which had sunk,burned or captured over 60 Federal ships in less than 2 years. the name stuck.
Many odd size and odd shaped granite boulders, some the size of small hills, dot the landscape. You can drive through, around, and into the Alabama Hills. Hiking is one way to get close up and personal with these intriguing rocks. The main drive is paved, but very rocky and rough. Many of the roads are actually dirt trails, so watch the roads as well as the boulders. The view of the many mountains and peaks, including Mt. Whitney , are enjoyed from the vantage point of the Alabama Hills. At present, it is remote with no facilities such as food, drink, restrooms, or gasoline. Be prepared before leaving the town of Lone Pine for this area. Close by, but so far away.
This is 10 foot section is the product of many nationalities who toiled and labored to earn wages that were considered high paying jobs during this era. Construction began in 1908 when crews started to dig eight feet of tunnel per day at each tunnel end, for a total of 16 feet per day. Crews dug more than 22 feet per day while constructing the five-mile Elizabeth Tunnel. They finished the tunnel 20 months instead of the previous estimate of five years and finished in 1913. This section of ring was removed from the west or Lancaster that had been originally installed in 1910. It was removed to make a connection to between LA and the aqueduct. Your can see this at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Information Center.
Mt. Whitney Ranger District
It is open daily, 8:00am to 5pm
Mt. Whitney is at the elevation of 14,497. It is the tallest peak in the contiguous forty eight states and this countries beautiful natural masterpiece. It was first climbed in 1873 and was called previously Fishermen’s Peak. It was rename later after Josiah Whitney who investigated it to be the tallest in the country according to his 1864 geologic survey. A trail called the Portal is the entrance to the hiking trail 10.7 miles that leads to the top of Mount Whitney. The center is open 7 days a week from 8am-6pm in summer and 8am-5pm in winter. They say it takes only one day, but most take 2-3 day to hike it and make sure you check with the rangers on what the rules are and what to take with you. One thing I am certain is, you pack everything in and everything out, and that includes your waste. Yeah, I am not kidding. They have kits you can get with the park rangers. Turns out the soil cannot handle waste deposits because of the granite in the soil cannot absorb that type of content properly. So many people visit here every year for its year around beauty so that means disaster for the environment.
Here is a great book with lots of informationHiking Mt.Whitney Trails
This adobe wall is a memorial to the victims that were lost during a earthquake March 26, 1872 that claimed the lives of so many Lone Pine citizens.
There is a original section located right behind the florist shop in the alley way. It is fenced, but there for anyone who would like to see it.
It reads: On March 26, 1872 at 2:30AM, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded destroyed 52 out of the 59 buildings in Lone Pine. Because of the scarcity of buildings materials the largely immigrant population of Lone Pine, (estimated 250-300) constructed buildings made of unreinforced adobe and stone.
This adobe wall is what remains of the general store, established in 1869 by Charles and Madeleine Meysan. This wall is the only remaining example of architecture in Lone Pine before the earthquake.
Dedicated June 17, 2000
Slim Princess Chapter #395
This little museum may be small but has lots of mining artifacts, ancestry family trees listed and awesome Bug Room! The gentleman who was the host was very nice to talk too and shared other interesting facts of the area. These artifacts were located at another little museum in Darwin. With Darwin becoming a ghost town, they wanted to save these and had them relocated here so we all can still enjoy them.
Thursday thru Saturday
9:00 AM to 4:00PM
Oct. thru March only.
No heat in the building:-(
Mt. Whitney Ranger District
It is open daily, 8:00am to 5pm
This beautiful new building has exhibits, displays, maps, brochures and so many other types of comprehensive books pertaining to the eastern Sierra Nevada and northern Mojave Desert. Lots of information displays with lots of advice to so many destinations all within Owens Valley. The theme here is, “Leave No Trace!” to protect the fragile environment here. The one purpose this center has is to remind tourist possibilities of the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra. Nine government agencies cooperate to run the information center.
There is a wonderful gift store and some really nice restrooms available for all visitors.
What a wonderful compliment to Lone Pines history. A awesome display of local movie history with exhibits, movie posters, costumes (worn by the actual actors), saddles, movie vehicles such as vintage cars and wagons. Lets’ not forget the really cool props used in Tremors and Iron man. It was really cool to walk up to the sand worms fromTremors and be able to touch them…kind of ewwww……lol!
They even have this wonderful 85 seat theatre that shows a 15 minute film on film history in this area. A really neat gift shop is here too.
Free, but does accept donations and memorabilia.
Shown at a distance in this photo. As you drive up the Whitney Portal Road, you'll pass these rust brown hills known as the Alabama Hills. There is supposed to be some good hiking in this area, but I did all of my hiking from above and, once completed, couldn't look at any type of uphill. Still, this would make a great day hiking destination.
Whitney Portal is the official launching pad for hikes on and around Mount Whitney. Since its located at a higher (8000 ft plus) elevation, many people camp here before embarking on their mountain trek. Since many people camp here, many bears roam the area at night, hungry for food and toiletries (They don't actually eat toiletries. At least, I don't think so. They just like the smell.)
In addition to eager hikers and bears, you'll find a small store at Whitney Portal as well as a place that serves great burgers and fries. I met one guy who'd just finished hiking the PCT who said he'd been dreaming about a "Whitney Burger" for days.
The Whitney Portal is located at the end of the Whitney Portal Road, an 8 mile steep drive through the Alabama Hills and up to the base of the mountain.
The museum is dedicated to the history of film making in the Lone Pine area which has been going on since the mid-1920s. A brand new facility to house exhibits and educate visitors about this history will be complete in October 2006 to coincide with the Lone Pine Film Festival. It wasn't open yet when we visited in August 2006 but it looks great from the outside with the facade reminiscent of a movie theater with large movie poster displays on the outside walls. We will definitely check it out the next time we go through Lone Pine.
Keep checking the website for contact information once the museum opens.
Mt. Whitney, at 14,491 feet, is the highest point in the lower-48 states (all states excluding Hawaii and Alaska). It is also very accessible without any technical climbing necessary via the main Mt. Whitney Trail (10.7 miles and over 6,000 feet of elevation). Because of these facts it is a very popular trail. To limit the damage to the wilderness, the National Forest Service limits the number of hikers/backpackers via a permit system. Daily limits are 100 day hikers and 60 overnight campers. Permits are issued via a lottery held in February. Any remaining spots after the lottery can be obtained by inquiry to the NFS. There are associated fees per person to be hiking on a given permit. For all the info on how to obtain a permit, go to the website below.
Also because of the high altitude, considerations must be made regarding possible physical problems such as severe headache, nausea, extreme tiredness/sleepiness, dizziness, etc. This is not to mention that those that have a fear of heights could experience problems at a number of spots along the trail. I do have a fear of heights but did not have a problem at any of the spots where some folks have reported to have had problems.
I will have more detail about the hike itself on my Whitney Portal page.