Once home for the Paiute and Shoshone Native Americans, Lone Pine is a small town located in the Owens Valley, in the beautiful Inyo County. With the snowy peak of Mount Whitney in the background and the surrounding Alabama Hills, the city is the perfect destination if you love outdoor activities, nature, history and you’ve already seen a couple of westerns.
And while it’s a pretty small city, there are still many ways to explore the area and find its treasures:
1. Wander around Alabama Hills
The famous rock formations, located on Whitney Portal Road, are one of the Lone Pine’s main attractions. Framed by the snowy Sierra Mountains, this is a place where the views are really incredible, be it early in the morning, when the air is clear and crisp, at sunset, with all the amazing colors in the sky, or during the night, when the stars are sparkling above you.
Two types of rocks – old volcanic rock and granite – shaped by the wind and water down the centuries form this mesmerizing scenery, with rounded boulders and intricate arches.
There are many activities you can do here, from trails to climbing, taking pictures or just wander around to discover the area.
And if this scenery has something familiar, even you’ve never been here before, maybe that’s because this was the setting for countless western movies – since the 1920s, more than 400 classic Westerns have been filmed here.
There’s also a Movie Road Tour – get the printed brochure from the Visitor Center and go find all the movie locations!
2. Climb to Mount Whitney
The highest summit in the continental US and the tallest peak in California (4418,69 m), Mount Whitney attracts avid climbers every year.
However, that’s not an easy hike and you must have a permit booked in advance as well.
Otherwise, take a drive along Whitney Portal Road, admire the scenery and make a stop at Whitney Portal. From here, even you don’t have a permit, you can make the first part of the Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail along Lone Pine Creek.
3. Visit Western Film History Museum
At Western Film History Museum you can explore a wide range of memorabilia and information about all the movies that were shot in the area, starting with the first silent western, in the 1920s to some of the latest productions.
Don’t miss the movie about the history of westerns, it runs several times a day at the museum’s theatre.
And a bonus point: you can visit the Western Film History Museum with your dog – the museum is pet-friendly!
4. Visit Manzanar War Relocation Center
The former camp is located halfway between Lone Pine and Independence and hosts a museum, several exhibits and also a bookstore. During World War II, Manzanar was one of the ten camps located across the United States where Japanese citizens were incarcerated.
Among the points of interest here there are two reconstructed barracks – Block 14, where you can get a glimpse of how everyday life in the camp once was. After visiting Block 14, you can take the self-guided tour to explore the grounds – don’t miss the Japanese gardens.
Before leaving, watch the 22 minutes movie “Remembering Manzanar” inside Visitor Center.
5. Celebrate the Wild West at the Lone Pine Film Festival
In the second week of October, in Lone Pine takes place the annual Lone Pine Film Festival, an event that celebrates all the movies filmed in the Alabama Hills and the surrounding locations. The festival is one of the most important western film festivals in the United States and throughout the years, from the first edition, in 1920, many famous actors, filmmakers, and producers have been here.
For three days, you can enjoy film screenings, wild west, rodeo shows, guided tours into the Alabama Hills to notable film locations and campfires.
Daily passes are $30.00 and will permit access to all movies and panels for the specific day.
6. Fishing and camping
Inyo County is one of the best California fishing destinations. There are many lakes around Lone Pine where you can fish – Independence Creek, Lone Pine Creek, Diaz Lake, Cottonwood Lakes, Big Pine Lakes, but some of these areas require permits.
With its breathtaking views, Lone Pine is the perfect camping spot, no matter the season. You can camp in the valley, in Alabama Hills, or near the base of Mt Whitney, at Lone Pine Campground.
Where to stay in Lone Pine:
- Dow Villa
- The Best Western Frontier Motel
- The Comfort Inn
- Mt. Whitney Motel
Where to eat in Lone Pine:
- Alabama Hills Cafe
- Season’s Restaurant
- Mount Whitney Restaurant
- Jake’s Saloon
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