Alabama Hills

Nestled at the bottom of one of the deepest and steepest valleys in the world, the gnarly, weathered boulders that form the Alabama Hills lay stacked and scattered beneath the JAGGED Sierra Crest. dozens of unique campsites Are Tucked amongst this dramatic terrain cherished by climbers, boondockers and cyclists. you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place to gather with friends around a campfire to watch the world turn beneath the stars.

ABOVE: Moonrise over the Alabama Hills, with the voluptuous Inyo Mountains beyond.
LEFT: The night cracks open like an egg and out oozes the day.
RIGHT: A few minutes later, the clouds ignite and the sky is on fire.
ABOVE: A Beavertail cactus just beginning its spring bloom.
ABOVE: Crisp, vibrant alpenglow along the Sierra Crest as seen from the Alabama Hills.

In Mount Whitney’s Shadow

ABOVE: Dawn light bathes Mount Whitney and the Sierra Crest in alpenglow on a fine January morning, with the Alabama Hills in the foreground.
ABOVE:  First light crawls across the eastern face of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48. In its shadow, you’ll find hundreds of natural arches weathered into granite boulders.
ABOVE: Spring clouds swirl around the summit of Mount Whitney as the sun turns the last of winter’s snow into meltwater.

The Hills at Night

ABOVE: Lightning illuminates the Alabama Hills, which sit near the bottom of one of the deepest and steepest valleys in America. To the west, Mount Whitney and the Sierra Nevada tower more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Eastward, the Inyo Mountains rise nearly as high. Massive lightning storms flickered on the far side of both ranges throughout this moonless, pitch-black night, lighting up the Owens Valley with each flash.
LEFT:  The glowing tent shot is a bit overdone these days, but when authentic, it still has its place. I especially appreciate the way these images use scale to set mankind against the much greater and more dominant backdrop of our planet and the universe. Sheltering away in our little tents, we are truly at the mercy of it all.
RIGHT: I remember this hot, summer night. Drank quite a few beers. Seared some chicken in a cast iron pan and used my camp stove to whip up some stuffing. Stayed up ’til 4 am watching the world turn beneath the stars.
ABOVE: Clear nights in the Alabama Hills give campers a glimpse into the distant past. Here, the Great Rift is visible as a dark band obscuring part of the Milky Way.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills, with the voluptuous Inyo Mountains beyond.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
The night cracks open like an egg and out oozes the day. A few minutes later, the clouds ignite and the sky is on fire.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
A Beavertail cactus just beginning its spring bloom.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Crisp, vibrant alpenglow along the Sierra Crest as seen from the Alabama Hills.

In Mount Whitney’s Shadow

Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Dawn light bathes Mount Whitney and the Sierra Crest in alpenglow on a fine January morning, with the Alabama Hills in the foreground.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
First light crawls across the eastern face of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48. In its shadow, you’ll find hundreds of natural arches weathered into granite boulders.
Spring clouds swirl around the summit of Mount Whitney as the sun turns the last of winter’s snow into meltwater.

The Hills at Night

Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
Lightning illuminates the Alabama Hills, which sit near the bottom of one of the deepest and steepest valleys in America. To the west, Mount Whitney and the Sierra Nevada tower more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Eastward, the Inyo Mountains rise nearly as high. Massive lightning storms flickered on the far side of both ranges throughout this moonless, pitch-black night, lighting up the Owens Valley with each flash.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
The glowing tent shot is a bit overdone these days, but when authentic, it still has its place. I especially appreciate the way these images use scale to set mankind against the much greater and more dominant backdrop of our planet and the universe. Sheltering away in our little tents, we are truly at the mercy of it all.
Moonrise over the Alabama Hills and the Inyo Mountains beyond.
I remember this hot, summer night. Drank quite a few beers. Seared some chicken in a cast iron pan and used my camp stove to whip up some stuffing. Stayed up ’til 4 am watching the world turn beneath the stars.
Clear nights in the Alabama Hills give campers a glimpse into the distant past. Here, the Great Rift is visible as a dark band obscuring part of the Milky Way.

Directions to the Alabama Hills

Just three hours from Los Angeles, the Alabama Hills are a quick zip across the Mojave Desert and up US 395 — another of California’s famous, scenic drives. The roads that wind through the boulders are dirt, but suitable for 2WD vehicles as long as you don’t go exploring too far off the beaten path (the side and spur roads can get rough quickly). And while camping in the hills feels wild and lonesome, the friendly glow of Lone Pine’s lights on the horizon will guide you into town should you crave a hot meal or need a resupply of ice and beer.

Related Organizations

Friends of the Inyo

Friends of the Inyo is devoted to the preservation of the Eastern Sierra landscapes, animals, plants and natural ecosystems. We strive to keep the public lands of the Eastern Sierra open to all and unencumbered by inappropriate development. Their core values compel them to advocate constructively based on science and data, and with ethical conduct. They collaborate with communities and diverse peoples of the Eastern Sierra.

Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association

As one of the region’s oldest nonprofits, the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA) was established in 1970 by visionary citizens interested in helping the U.S. Forest Service provide interpretive education relevant to the unique surrounding landscape. Upon receiving its nonprofit 501(c)3 status in 1971, ESIA became one of the first independent organizations in the United States to operate under a Participating Agreement with the U.S. Forest Service for educational purposes.

Eastern Sierra Land Trust

Eastern Sierra Land Trust works with willing landowners to protect vital lands in the Eastern Sierra region for their scenic, agricultural, natural, recreational, historical, and watershed values. By partnering with forward-thinking landowners, agencies, and conservation supporters, they work with their community to conserve the Eastern Sierra for the future.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.