At the end of the Death Valley blog post a few days ago, we said to check back to see where we ended up since we weren’t entirely sure where we were going. Well, we did not have to resort to a parking lot! We came over the mountains into Lone Pine, CA and had two options for campgrounds. The first one we drove through, Portuguese Joe, was perfectly adequate and would have been a fine place to base our adventures, but we were hoping for something with a little more of a view and a little more space between sites, so we headed on up the road to Tuttle Creek. As soon as we pulled in, we both knew that this was where we would be staying. It took us a little time to find a site that didn’t require a crazy number of blocks to get level, but it was worth the effort! Just look at the photo above to see the crazy-awesome views in this campground! Nothing like looking up into views of Mt. Whitney and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in one direction, and the Alabama Hills and Inyo Mountains in the other direction to get every day started off right!
On our first full day in the area, Thursday, the weather wasn’t great. It was in the 40s and there were low clouds and snow showers until the afternoon. We used the weather as an excuse to sleep in a bit, have a leisurely breakfast, and spend some time researching and trip planning. Once the clouds started to lift we went to Manzanar (see previous post).
The weather significantly improved for the rest of our stay, and on Friday, we took off for some time in the Alabama Hills. We were excited to see the area after hearing about it for years. Unfortunately, Movie Road that goes through the area, was partially closed due to road damage, so we only got to go part of the way through, but it was still enough to keep us busy for a few hours. We hiked to Mobius Arch and then took some other trails around the area in hopes of getting to Eye of the Alabama, but we never found it. We’re not sure if we missed a turn somewhere, or just didn’t go far enough, but even without finding the attraction, we saw lots of amazing rock formations and had a great time! On returning to the truck, we consulted the map and saw that another formation called Bowling Ball and Pins was just a short distance away, so we walked over to that, too. One thing we both said about the Alabama Hills area is that it is smaller than we expected. From the videos we have watched and articles we have read, we expected it to be much larger. Even so, there are a ton of interesting things to see and plenty of hiking to keep you busy for the day. If you are into movies, there are many movies that have been filmed here, and you can hike to many of the former set locations, too.
After leaving Alabama Hills we drove up Whitney Portal Road as far as we could go, to the road closure. At the closure, we parked and walked a short distance further up the road. Almost immediately, there were rock falls and snow patches that blocked the road. It was very obvious why the road was closed, and if it was this bad down near the closure, we can only imagine what it must be like at higher elevations! It seemed a little strange to be walking in the middle of the road and not be worried about traffic! Just a little way up, there was an amazing view over the edge of the road down into the valley. Way off in the distance we were able to see our campground in one direction, and Manzanar off in the other. We love being able to look down on places we have been from a bird’s-eye view!
On our final day, we drove further up the valley, through the towns of Independence, Big Pine, and Bishop. We stopped and browsed a few stores, got diesel fuel, filled a propane tank, and had lunch at Copper Top BBQ. We are already starting to feel the pain of California prices. Propane was almost twice what we are used to paying and the diesel wasn’t cheap, either. Even lunch was quite expensive. The lunch portions were large and the food was decent, but it was nothing spectacular. For the price, we probably wouldn’t go back. As our final exploration in the area, we swung back into Manzanar to see the things we had to skip on Thursday.
Lone Pine, and the surrounding area, is a fun place to explore. We were here just a little early, though, as some things were still closed for the season. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest would have been fun to see, and we would have liked to be able to drive further up the Whitney Portal Road. Maybe we will be back to hit those things another time!
We can’t leave you without a nighttime photo of our campsite. The moon was so bright that it was casting shadows. How stunning is this place?
Until next time!