Alabama Hills, located in the Eastern Sierra region, is one of the most amazing spots in California. Here you’ll find dramatic desert landscape with snow-capped mountains lining the background. You can even see Mt. Whitney from here, which is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states! Going on an Alabama Hills camping trip should definitely be on any nature-lovers bucket list.
Keep reading for my guide on the best things to do in Alabama Hills and start planning your adventure!
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Alabama Hills Camping Trip Overview
- Nights: 1-2
- PTO Days Needed: 0-1
- Cost: $
How to Get to Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills is about a 3.5 hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s right near the town of Lone Pine, CA. From Lone Pine, you turn left on Whitney Portal Road and then take a right on Movie Road, which is where the Alabama Hills entrance is!
Alabama Hills Camping
One of the best ways to explore Alabama Hills is to camp! Alabama Hills is BLM land, which means that it’s public land filled with free camping spots that you don’t need a reservation for. As you’re driving down Movie Road, you’ll see quite a few great camping spots among the big boulders that you can choose from. Make sure to camp far off from the main road, practice leave-no-trace principles, and check the fire regulations before you go to determine if you are able to have a fire or not.
If you want more of the comforts of home while camping, consider renting a campervan for your Alabama Hills camping trip! We rented one through Travellers Autobarn, and it was amazing. This van sleeps up to 3 people, with a queen size bed in the lower level and a twin size bed up top. There is a fridge, microwave, stove and sink inside the van, and ample space to stand up and move around. The queen bed on the bottom converts into a kitchen table for the daytime. Also, Travellers Autobarn has free unlimited miles, which is something most other campervan companies don’t offer! You can pick up the van at their location near LAX.
Alabama Hills Lodging
Not the camping type? No problem! You can explore Alabama Hills during the day and stay in a hotel in Lone Pine at night. I’ve heard great things about the Dow Villa motel in Lone Pine. It’s only about a 5 minute drive to the Alabama Hills entrance!
Alabama Hills Packing List
Don’t leave home without these items if you’re planning an Alabama Hills camping trip!
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- REI Joule Sleeping Bag (this is the one that I have and I love it)
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad (this is the one that I use)
- Portable Rocking Chair (This thing is AWESOME!)
- REI Flexlite Chair – low profile camping chair that’s a big space-saver
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – stays colder than Hydroflask or Yeti!)
- Decathlon 2-Second Tent (I love this one – it’s super easy to setup and you can sleep longer because of the blackout material)
- Hiking Boots (These are my favorite!)
- Camping String Lights (these are the ones I have and I love them!)
- Travel Towel
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (I bring this on EVERY camping trip. It packs up small and keeps you warm!)
- Sunski Polarized Glasses
- Camping Cooler
- Portable phone charger
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (love these things for a boost of energy!)
- Kuhl Softshell Pants – These are my favorite pants to wear hiking or camping when the weather gets chilly!
- Periscoping Roasting Sticks – these come in handy when you want to roast smores or hot dogs over the fire!
- Camping Grill – this is the one I have, and I love it!
How Many Days in Alabama Hills?
You can technically see all of the sites in one day, but I recommend staying for at least 2 days so you can really soak in the views and enjoy the scenery. It’s truly amazing, and a great place to get of the grid and escape into nature!
Best Time to go to Alabama Hills
The best time to go is in Fall, Winter and Spring. In Winter and Spring, you can see the snow-capped mountains in the background! The temperatures in the summer are often too hot if you’re planning on camping in Alabama Hills.
Best Things to Do in Alabama Hills
Watch the Sunrise
One of the best things to do in Alabama Hills is to wake up early and watch the sunrise! It’s seriously epic, and worth waking up for. The light shines a pink hue on the mountains as the sun rises, and its absolutely beautiful!
The Mobius Arch is one of the most iconic landmarks in Alabama Hills. This natural rock arch perfectly frames Mt Whitney in the background!
To get here, you can type in “Mobius Arch” into your maps (I recommend downloading an offline map before your trip, such as maps.me, since you likely won’t have cell service)
There is a small parking area at the Arch Loop trailhead. This short, 0.6 mile hike take you on a loop through big boulder formations, ending with the Mobius Arch. It can get a bit confusing to find the actual Mobius Arch, as there is not a sign directing to the arch itself. Just make sure you stay on the Arch Trail instead of forking off to the other trail.
This funky painted rock is right near the entrance to Alabama Hills, on the right side. You can’t miss it! There is a little parking area so you can get out of your car and check it out.
The Boot Arch can be found at the following coordinates: 36.632849, -118.132333. It’s about 10 minutes past the Mobius Arch. You’ll see a little campsite area. Park right near here, and then walk along the little unmarked trail to the rock formation until you see it!
Movie Road Photo-Op
Movie Road is the main road the runs through Alabama Hills. One part of the road has a hill, which is a popular spot for photographers (you’ve likely seen Instagram photos of this spot). The desert rocks in the foreground contrasting with the snow-capped mountains in the background make for the perfect photo! This hill is located about 3 min past the Mobius Arch. You’ll see a little parking area at the top of the hill.
Make sure to be careful of incoming cars while checking out this spot!
Drive Through All of Alabama Hills
You can actually drive through Alabama Hills all the way back out to the 395. Instead of back-tracking after seeing the Mobius Arch and Boot Arch, keep following the main road until you reach back up with 395. Follow your map to make sure you stay on the right road.
This is the perfect way to see all that Alabama Hills has to offer!
Alabama Hills has GREAT star viewing. One of the best things to do on an Alabama Hills camping trip is to spend some time looking up at the stars. The night photography opportunities here are epic!
Check out the Museum of Western Film History
Fun fact: many old western movies were filmed in Alabama Hills, including How the West was Won. Check out this little film museum in town to learn more about the film history in this area!
Eat Breakfast in Lone Pine
I recommend heading into Lone Pine at some point during your Alabama Hills camping trip to get breakfast at Alabama Hills Bakery & Cafe!
This cute spot in town has great breakfast, and a display case inside filled with fresh baked goods! We tried the chocolate chip cookie and the mixed berry pie – both were delicious!
Thank you to Travellers Autobarn for hosting me during my trip. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.