California’s Eastern Sierra

Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills are situated in the Owen’s Valley, just outside of the small Sierra Nevada town of Lone Pine.  Lone Pine and its surrounding area are the gateway to Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.  Specifically, the Alabama Hills were used in old western television and movies, dating to the 1920’s.  It is a popular sport climbing, hiking, photography, and primitive camping destination.  As a side note, if you don’t feel like cooking, Margie’s Merry Go Round Restaurant in Lone Pine is probably the best Chinese Food in the state of California.   Alabama Hills on Trip Advisor

Directions + Camping

To find the Alabama Hills, take Hwy 395 to Lone Pine. Turn west at the stoplight onto Whitney Portal Road, drive 2.5 miles to Movie Road, turn right and you have arrived at the Alabama Hills, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Camping is primitive, so no services are available, but obvious pullouts and fire rings indicate natural camp spots.

Sport Climbing

Climbing at the Alabama Hills is easily accessed with short, flat walks to routes.   There are many moderates and both sun and shade options for virtually, year-round climbing.  Alabama Hills Rock Climbing Routes

Morning view from the Alabama Hills, a rainbow clouds Lone Pine Peak + the Range of Light
View from a high point in the Alabama Hills.
Breakfast at the Alabama Hills, parked near the Tall Wall climbing area.
Sagebrush in the Alabama Hills
Climbing at Tall Wall


Dinner at Margie’s Merry Go Round Chinese Food in Lone Pine.

Keough Hotsprings

The warm waters of Keough Hotsprings can be accessed by its natural drainage on a dirt road just off Highway 395, or by the Keough Hotsprings “Resort,” where the water is used to fill the swimming pool.  The hot springs swimming pool was built in 1919, so it feels like going back in time.  What a bonus when looking for a rinse after camping in the Alabama Hills.  Both of these spots are little gems.


From Big Pine drive 7.6 miles North on US-395. Turn Left on Keough Hot Springs Road. Continue straight for .6 miles.  You will see signs starting on 395 to the swimming pool.

The natural hot springs, referred to by locals as “The Ditch,” is the second small dirt road to the right, just before continuing up to the “Resort.”  Park in the dirt just next to the hot springs.  There are about five clean little pools below.

“The Ditch,” Keough’s Natural Hotsprings
Keough’s Natural Hot Springs
Keough Hot Springs swimming pool and waterfall cooling system.

Pine Creek Canyon

Cooler days in the shade are really nippy in this canyon, but climbing in the canyon during moderate to warm weather is rewarding.  Moderate climbs can be found here, along with a good selection of 10d to 11c.


Hwy 395 North from Bishop to Pine Creek Road. Turn left onto Pine Creek Road. Continue through a small town, and follow a few switchbacks until you see a canyon on the right and a primitive campground the left down by the creek.  To get to the climbs, turn right onto a dirt road and park in one of two parking areas and walk up the trail to the canyon climbs.

Viewing climbs in Pine Creek Canyon.
Pine Creek Canyon’s primitive campsite.

4 thoughts on “California’s Eastern Sierra

  1. Enjoyed your blog. I go up 395 fairly often, but liked your details and photos of lesser known hidden gems along the way. Thanks!

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