Free Camping at Alabama Hills, CA


Friday November 24

Journey

My girlfriend Sara (AKA my photography model) and I left home (Fountian Valley, CA) around 12:30 pm, and to get to Alabama Hills it took us about 4 hours after a couple bathroom breaks and food stops along the way. We arrived right when the sun was setting behind the Sierra Mountains and we were able to set up our tent and unload all our gear right before it got dark.

Camp Location

Alabama Hills is located only a couple miles West of Lone Pine, right off of Highway 395. Driving North on Highway 395 turn left onto Whitney Portal Road, drive toward the mountains for a couple miles, then turn right on Movie Flat Rd and you will arrive at Alabama Hills. This whole area is BLM (bureau of land management) and it is free to camp on the land, the only downside is there is no running water or bathrooms. There are many dirt roads you can drive around and look for a camp spot, but some of the best spots are hidden away and we were lucky enough to find one. The GPS coordinates of our specific camp spot are 36.604034, -118.118407. There are three good spots all in a close vicinity, so if you don’t get that one you should get another similar one.


Night 1

In the winter it gets dark super early, so we drove into Lone Pine to Joseph’s Market, and got some extra supplies, AKA drinks and s’mores. Sara and I made some grilled salmon and mac and chesse, super random combination I know… Mixed together some hot Fireball and Apple Juice and made an excessive amount of s’mores. When the moon moved behind the mountains it was dark enough to take star photos. Alabama Hills is such an epic place to take star photos, because you can use the rocks or the mountains as a backdrop and there is no light pollution so the sky is crystal clear.

Weather

the weather at the end of November when we went was in the 70s during the day and low 40s at night. Be prepared for a cold nights with lots of firewood and warm clothing. We actually thought the weather would drop down into the 30s at night, but it was unusually warm for this time of year. We were prepared with our zero degree sleeping bags and stocked up with hand warmers for the night time.



Saturday November 25

Death Valley Day Trip

The next day we woke up early made some pancakes, and were on our way to Death Valley. From Alabama Hills, Death Valley is a little less than 2 hours South East. Our mission was to hike out to Mesquite Sand Dunes and try and get some photos without a lot of people. When you park the first area of sand dunes is filled with people so you have to hike quite a ways out to get away from the crowds. So we hiked about a mile or two out to score some less touched areas of the sand dunes. We brought our lunch out there as well as several bottles of water. This took up most of our day, as it is incredibly hard to hike in the sand. Sadly, we didn’t have extra time to explore any other areas of Death Valley, as we had to get back to our campsite before it got too dark. We stopped by Joseph's again, on the way home and picked up some firewood and called it an early night.


Sunday November 26


Alabama Hills Exploring

On our last day we made some bougie avocado bacon toast, packed up all of our gear and we hopeful to explore more areas than we did in the previous day. We first drove further down Movie Flat Rd to the parking area of Mobious Arch. From there you can hike a short distance to Mobious Arch, which is a picturesque rock arch with the Eastern Sierras in the background. The trail is about a mile loop back to the parking lot and there is another small arch along the way.


We then hopped back into the car and drove further down Movie Flat Rd where we reached a super popular spot to take Instagram photos. The road slopes downward perfectly toward Alabama Hills in the foreground, and the snow capped mountains in the background, as you can see in the photo to the left.


Trona Pinnacles Mission

Trona Pinnacles was on our way back sort of… as you’re heading south on the 395 get off on the 178 East and then make a right onto Pinnacle Rd. Once you’re on Pinnacle Rd its about 5-6 miles on a dirt road and then you will arrive at Trona Pinnacles. From Alabama Hills it took us about 2 hours to arrive. The Pinnacles look like they belong on Mars and it makes for an amazing area to get some eerie looking photos. Once you arrive to the Trona Pinnacles you can do the loop around the main area or drive wherever you want, because there are dirt roads going in all different directions. This also is BLM land, meaning that its free to camp, but be prepared the town is a long way away if you need any supplies. The area really lights up right before the sun starts to set, and makes for some epic photos.


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