Alabama Hills is one of my favorite free campsites ever, and its located in the beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I have never done a trip to Alabama Hills with it being my final destination, but I have used it on three separate occasions as a stepping stone and place to rest my head on the way to other trips in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first time I stopped at Alabama Hills was the night before starting my High Sierra Trail Trip. We were dropping off one of our cars in Lone Pine and spent the night for free in Alabama Hills before waking up and driving to Sequoia National Park to start out hike.
The second time I stopped there was to spend the night on the way up to Coyote Flats for a Jeeping and peak bagging adventure. The third and most recent time I stopped was for another trip up to Coyote Flatts (Trip report still being written).
So why visit Alabama Hills? Other than it being a free no reservation place to camp, it's absolutely beautiful:
Alabama Hills is also amazing because it is so easily accessible just a couple miles outside the city of Lone Pine California, and the trails are not very technical at all.
Not only is it beautiful and easily accessible, but it also has some awesome movie history. A few movies that have been filmed there are (Big list can be found here):
- Iron Man
- Star Trek Generations
- The Lone Ranger
I personally do not participate in much climbing, but there are a ton of great rocks to scramble up, and I caught a few climbers early one morning on my second trip. If you are a climber this is definitely a great place to stop and bring your gear:
Before my most recent trip, I created a map which I used satellite images to mark out a bunch of predetermined campsites. In the past, I have gotten there after sunset and its not fun trying to find a campsite in the dark, so I marked some possible locations on a Caltopo Map. Alabama Hills can also be found on Google Maps here, and the best road to turn off on for the start is where Movie Road intersects Whitney Portal Road here.
You can view download and interact with the map above on Caltopo here. I did not visit each marked site individually so they may or may not be good places to camp, but it is a starting point. Also always obey posted signs, things always change.
Here is a short tour of the campsite we had on our last trip to Alabama Hills: