Alabama Hills California

Get to Know the Best of Alabama Hills California

When you hear of the Alabama Hills, you may not immediately guess this mesmerizing destination is actually not in Alabama as you might guess, but in California!  Alabama Hills California is one of the most oddly bizarre yet stunningly beautiful destinations in the U.S., and its uniqueness is unparalleled.  Amongst the iconic mountains of the Sierras is nestled the Alabama Hills and its alien-esque landscape, full of arches, “potato” rocks, and curious formations, highlighted by a backdrop of some of the most majestic mountains in the country, including the highest point in the lower 48 states at Mt Whitney!  No wonder this location has been the filming site of hundreds of movies, including Gladiator, Star Trek, and Tremors! If Alabama Hills California piques your curiosity, then get to know the best of Alabama hills hiking and Alabama hills camping for a truly unforgettable and one of a kind outdoor experience!


Alabama Hills California

Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used!  Enjoy this guide to Alabama Hills California!


Guide to Alabama Hills California


  • Location: Lone Pine, California (view map HERE)
  • Entrance Fees: FREE!
  • Pet Policy: Leashed pets are welcome at Alabama Hills!
  • Best Time of Year to Visit:  you can visit Alabama Hills California year round.  Due to the higher temperatures in summer, however, plan your visit earlier in the morning!
  • Best Things to Do:  Hiking, camping, photography, sightseeing
  • What You Need to Bring:  Sturdy shoes, breathable layers, and plenty of water!


Alabama Hills California is one of those destinations that will leave you scratching your head, but also overwhelmed by the sheer oddity and beauty of this place!  It is a superb destination for hikers, campers, road trippers, and photographers alike.  Its close proximity to the Sierra Mountains and the plethora of outdoor opportunities provided there mean that you can create a whole weekend or week long itinerary of outdoor adventures in this area, including the Alabama Hills!


It is free to enter, explore, and camp within the Alabama Hills, and there is one main park road that is easy to traverse to different areas of the Alabama Hills at your own pace.  There are several day hikes, and most are very family friendly!  The backdrop and surroundings of the Alabama Hills is ideal for campers wanting to soak in the experience overnight.  


Alabama Hills California
The Alabama Hills California!


Alabama Hills California
The backdrop of the Sierra Mountains and Mt. Whitney


Location of Alabama Hills California


The Alabama Hills in California are located right outside the small town of Lone Pine California.  If Lone Pine is your home base, then the drive to Alabama Hills is just a couple of minutes away.  If you continue on a few minutes past the Alabama Hills, you will be in Mt. Whitney territory, as well as other gateways to Sierra high altitude hikes, such as Horseshoe Meadows and Cottonwood Lakes!



Alabama Hills Hiking


There are several trails, landmarks, and natural formations absolutely worth checking out during your visit to Alabama Hills California!


#1: Mobius Arch

Alabama Hills California stands out for its quirky geological formations, and one of the most popular ones is the Mobius Arch.  One of the best ways to see the Mobius Arch in person is to hike the short, family friendly Arch Loop Trail.  This 0.6 mile long trail takes you past the base of the arch, plus traverses around dozens of boulders piles.  


Alabama Hills hiking


#2: Shark Fin

#3: Lone Ranger Canyon

You can probably guess what the Shark Fin formation looks like.  See it up close on the 1.7 mile roundtrip Shark Fin Loop Trail!  Or check out the Lone Ranger Canyon, an area of the park that is perfect for hiking under a mile in length!


#4: Cyclops Skull Arch

Craving a longer day hike?  Make the 10.4 mile roundtrip trek to the Cyclops Skull Arch on the Upper Alabama Hills Trail!  Just don’t forget to bring plenty of water for this one.  I’d recommend the Platypus 3 liter water hydration bladder.  This model is great for on the go hydration, and the wide mouth means it is easy to fill, empty, clean, and dry!


Alabama Hills California
Nightmare Rock in Alabama Hills California


#5: Nightmare Rock

There are also a handful of drive up sights to see, located right off the main park road, or within a minute or so walk in from the road.  Nightmare Rock is arguably one of the weirdest things you’ll ever see in the outdoors, and it is visible just from driving by, or you can park and soak in the sight for longer.  


#6: Elephant Rock

#7: Heart Arch

#8: Eye of Alabama Arch

Two other park favorites, that also happen to be adjacent to the Mobius Arch, are the aptly named Elephant Rock and the Heart Arch, where a delicate and quaint heart is etched into one of the many towering boulders.  The Eye of Alabama Arch is another drive up that’s easily accessible from the road and just up the road from the Mobius Arch, Elephant Rock, and the Heart Arch.  


Alabama Hills hiking
The “Heart” of Alabama Hills hiking


***Check out the BLM’s map for trails and sights!


Alabama Hills Camping


There are several developed campgrounds that can be used for overnighters to the Alabama Hills.  Tuttle Creek Campground has over 80 tent and rv sites, with drinking water and restrooms available.  Other developed campgrounds nearby include Portuguese Joe Campground and Lone Pine Campground.  


There is limited undeveloped, semi primitive camping outside of these 3 developed campgrounds, and are designated on the Alabama Hills website here.  There are no restroom facilities located within the boundaries of the Alabama Hills, but there are several porta-potties.  There is also no running water, so come prepared! Camping at Alabama Hills in the designated semi primitive camping areas is also free!


Alabama Hills camping
Sights to see while doing some Alabama Hills camping!


Alabama Hills camping


Alabama Hills camping


Other Opportunities at Alabama Hills California


Hiking and camping may be some of the most popular draws, but don’t overlook the fantastic mountain biking, horseback riding, and photography opportunities here.  And if you do your research ahead of time, you can also enjoy the fact that the Alabama Hills are home to the filming sites of hundreds of well known movies, some as early as the 1920’s.  You can pick up a self guided tour pamphlet at the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for a self guided drive.







Alabama Hills California


Alabama Hills California


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