Lone Pine California: 6 Unique Places to Explore

Lone Pine California: unknown, Eastern side of the Golden State. Alabama Hills, Japanese internment camp historical site, lowest and highest point in the US, hot springs.

Lone Pine might sound like a desolate place but it is … a unique gateway. It is a portal to the lowest and highest places in the US – Death Valley and Mt. Whitney. Many people know Lone Pine as the home of Alabama Hills, a famous filming location.

Lone Pine, California

1. Alabama Hills

Just 3 hours north of LA, on the eastern slopes of Sierra Nevada, lies a wonder of geology, Alabama Hills:

  • Lone Pine California: Alabama Hills, Mobius Arch

They look like they were smothered by water, its round boulders are easy to erode, and have a lot of little caves to play in and hide.

Alabama Hills scenery has been used in nearly 400 films, many of them about the Wild West; so well-known dusty roads to the end of the horizon, vistas, dramatic slopes, and snow-capped mountains.

Pictured above: Mobius Arch trail, the most popular and easy in Alabama Hills.

2. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is the largest National Park south of Alaska. Being the land of superlatives, it is the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America.

We have spent 2 days exploring Death Valley, with a stop for a day at the Lone Pine. Most of all we liked: Dune sledding, winter hiking, walking the Salt Flat, and Borax Works:

  • Death Valley National Park, California

3. Lone Pine California: Mount Whitney

Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 (after Denali in Alaska): the elevation at the summit is 4418 meters. Also, it is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada. You may wonder, like us, “Why”:

  • Relatively short trail to the summit: 17 km.
  • Hike to the summit can be done in a day or 12-16 hours.
  • From mid-July to October climbing equipment usually isn’t nessesary.
  • Trailhead is easy to access.

The shortest and most popular route to climb Mt. Whitney starts 13 miles of Lone Pine at the Whitney Portal, 2550 meters above sea level. All hikes, entering the Mt. Whitney zone, are required to obtain a permit.

Lone Pine California: portal to Mt. Whitney
Lone Pine California: portal to Mt. Whitney. photo credit: wikimedia

4. Bishop, Owens Valley Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center

The unique cultural heritage of indigenous people run by Paiute Shoshone is preserved at Bishop Cultural Center. Since our Death Valley visit, we were eager to learn more about people who were able to not just live, but prosper in such a harsh environment.

What we learned at the center: where locals lived, how they hunt, gather, and prepare food, bathe, decorate baby girl/boy cradleboards, and many more. Spend more than an hour there, loved it!

5. Manzanar National Historic Site

After the Pearl Harbor attack, more than 112,000 Japanese Americans who were living on the West Coast were interned in camps. 2/3 of internees were United States citizens. Manzanar was one of the 10 concentration camps during 1942 and 1945.

If you can’t visit Manzanar, but want to learn what it was like to live, grow, and survive in camps like this, there is an emotional memoir by George Takei “They called us enemy“.

  • Manzanar National Historic Site

6. Keough’s Hot Springs Resort/ Ditch

There are two distinctive places: Keough Hot Springs Resort and Keough Hot Ditch, both located off the 395 road, 50 miles north from Lone Pine.

Keough Hot Ditch sources from the creek coming out Keough Hot Springs uphill, pay resort. The ditch is cascading, primitive pools, beloved made by locals who dammed the creek. Free of charge.

The water in the pools is hot but tends to become cooler over the years. Clothing is optional, no public restroom on site.

Lone Pine California: More interesting places nearby

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – one of the top ski resorts in California.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – home to the oldest trees in the world, bristlecone pines, some of them more than 4000 years old.

Lone Pine, California: Essentials

  • We were eager to visit Mt. Whitney, but the access road closed because of the snow storm. Check out the conditions before you go.
  • Stunning graphic memoir about living in recounting actor G. Takei’s chilhood: They Called Us Enemy. Me and my 12 y.o. son liked it a lot.
  • Dress in layers, comfy shoes, and don’t forget swimsuites and towels for hot springs. 🙂
  • Wear long pants while visiting Alabama Hills, especially for kids: rocks are very rough to touch.
Ancient bristlecone pine overlooking the mountains. photo credit: daveynin
Ancient bristlecone pine overlooking the mountains. photo credit: daveynin

Check hours, fees, and conditions before you go out exploring

Read next:

Death Valley National Park winter visit: 2 days of exploring. Dune sledding, hiking, etc.

San Diego: history, wildlife and where to watch it, natural wonders, beaches. Why it is our favorite California city.

6 Days, 4 canyons road trip: Grand Canyon, Antelope, Bryce, and Zion. Winter visit: weather, POI, peace, and serenity of traveling off-season.

By Mrs. Grazy Goat

I am Ira, the author behind Grazy Goat. My husband and I run this blog and share our experiences about thrilling places and cultures. Our son Artem recently joined us and helps with editing.

We are very happy to have YOU here 😻