SoCal Daytrips: Lone Pine/ Alabama Hills

I’ve seen these magical mountains – the Alabama Hills – in many pictures and movies, and have always wanted to see them in person. The Alabama Hills are located near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Owens Valley, west of Lone Pine, and the land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  After visiting Death Valley National Park in January, we made a quick detour on our way home to visit Lone Pine/ Alabama Hills.  Tip: This is also a great stop if you’re driving between LA/OC and Mammoth.


After spending 3 days and 2 nights in Death Valley (link to blog post here), we headed to Lone Pine.  We made it to Lone Pine for a delicious dinner at The Grill, and then settled into our hotel, the Best Western Plus Lone Pine to get some rest.  Tip:  Check the weather if you are visiting in the winter. We were not expecting it to be so much colder (20-30 degrees less) than Death Valley, but thankfully had prepared many layers.

The next morning, we enjoyed the free hot breakfast at our motel and then headed out to do some exploring. We didn’t have time to stop at Museum of Western Film History this time, but I have heard great things about it and will definitely try to visit when we have more time.   Since we were hoping to leave the area by mid afternoon (we had one more stop in mind, and didn’t want to get home too late with work/school the next morning) – we picked up sandwiches from the Alabama Hills Cafe, so that we could picnic out in the wilderness.  While visiting the Alabama Hills, we knew we wanted to see the Mobius Arch, but left a little extra time for unplanned exploring!


To get to the Alabama hills/ Mobius Arch, you need to take Whitney Portal Road from Lone Pine towards the mountains.  For our first stop, Mobius Arch, we turned right on Movie Flat Road. Movie Flat Road is a dirt road, but it’s well maintained and you do not need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. We were fine driving down the road in our minivan.  Tip:  You may lose cell phone reception around here, so I recommend downloading or printing out the directions beforehand.  The Hiking Guy provides great step by step directions to the Mobius Arch Trail that you can print out here.  About 2 miles in from Whitney Portal Road, there’s a fork in Movie Flat Road. Take the right fork, and you’ll see the Mobius Arch Trail parking area.   The Mobius Arch Trail is a short and easy, well maintained, 0.6 mile loop trail. Our family with ages ranging from  our 3 year old to 71 year old grandparents had no trouble, and greatly enjoyed the scenery.  It was quite cold and windy in January,  so we bundled up in winter coats and beanies to stay warm.

After we finished our hike, we enjoyed our picnic lunch. It was so cold and windy outside (38F),  we opted to eat our sandwiches from the warmth of our car.

We had some time left to spare, so we decided to continue the scenic drive along Movie Flat Road until we hit a dead end, then turned around and returned to Whitney Portal Road.  When we returned to Whitney Portal Road, we took a right and headed toward the mountains. We made it to the base, as the road up the hill was closed for the season. Since we were at higher elevation, we found some snow, and the boys enjoyed a quick snowball fight.


Not quite done adventuring, we stopped at the Lone Pine Campground to check it out next. There is also a pit toilet here. There was no one at this campground in January, but we all agreed this would be a fun place to come back to camp in warmer weather.

Processed with VSCO with fp1 preset

We then took Whitney Portal Road back to Lone Pine/ Highway 395, but not without a stop at the Face Rock (Aka Nightmare Rock) .  We had passed this on the way to Mobius Arch, and the boys insisted that they wanted to stop and check it out. I tried to find out more about this painted rock, but couldn’t find too much information other than that local artists decided to paint a face on it and maintain it every now and then.  If anyone knows more about this fun rock, please share below in comments!


Places Visited:  Movie Flat Road, Mobius Arch, Lone Pine Campground, Face Rock.

Where we stayed:  Best Western Plus Lone Pine, 1008 S Main St, Lone Pine, CA 93545 760) 876-5571.  The rooms were comfortable and large.  Room amenities include free wifi, flat-screen TVs with premium cable channels, minifridges and coffeemakers.  Hot breakfast and parking is included. There is also a seasonal outdoor pool, a fitness center and a picnic area, in addition to a business center and a meeting room.

Places we ate at and recommend: 

  • Alabama Hills Cafe and Bakery, 11 W Post St, Lone Pine, CA 93545. (760) 876-4675   Tip: The sandwiches were awesome and great for picnicking. The veggie melt is probably the best I’ve ever had.
  • The Grill, 446 S Main St, Lone Pine, CA 93545, (760) 876-4240  After some mediocre food in Death Valley National Park, we greatly enjoyed our dinner here!

* This is NOT a sponsored post. All the opinions shared in this post are our own.

Posted by

I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, doctor, adventure enthusiast, food lover, and photographer. I spend a lot of time researching fun things for my family to do, explore and eat - so I created this space to share some information that might be helpful to others.

One thought on “SoCal Daytrips: Lone Pine/ Alabama Hills

Leave a Reply