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Soak in the Beauty of Alabama Hills - Things To Experience When In Lone Pine

10 Top-Rated and Unmissable Things To Experience When In Lone Pine (2023)

Lone Pine is a beautiful Californian city nestled midway between Inyo Mountains (on its east) and the Sierra Nevada Mountains (to its West). One can reach this tiny town in east of California, specifically in the Owens Valley, Inyo County. Its unique geography makes the town the lowest elevation in North America and the highest mountain in the mainland United States. You might not find a similar vacation city in entire California, and thus, being there at least once is surely an experience on its own.

Your bucket list for exploring California must include Lone Pine if outdoor spots, recreational regions, hiking and trekking excites you. Because no matter how small this town is or how less of a population it has, natural beauty and wonders are covering Lone Pine from all the side and angles.

10 Top-Rated and Unmissable Things To Experience When In Lone Pine

For an exciting trip to Lone Pine, we have compiled some best of the ideas here. Have a look at the Popular places and things to do in Lone Pine.

1. Explore the Trek to Lone Pine Lake

Lone Pine Lake is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes to explore in the world. Surrounded by rocky hills, pine trees and snow (during the winter months), this turquoise blue lake makes for a peaceful and divine location that no one can dislike. Lone Pine Lake is at the foot of Mt. Whitney and can be reached by easy hiking of nearly 2.7 miles (one-way). Soaking into the view of aquamarine Pine Lake reflecting the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains is surreal and divine. The trails leading to the lake are marked easier to moderate, and anyone who has been into hiking before can plan their day for this fascinating trek. Even though any other hiking in or around the region requires a permit, visitors are more than welcome to submit the Lone Pine Lake without any official permission or documents.

2. Soak in the Beauty of Alabama Hills

If you are into Hollywood movies and TV series, you would have definitely seen the beauty of Alabama hills (featured in Gladiator and Iron Man). Ten minutes from Lone Pine lies the distinct, round, and intense geologically rugged peaks of Alabama Hills. As good as they look on screen and pictures, Alabama is a notch better in reality and unique from what you would have actually explored in the other parts of California. The Hills here are famous for hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The trails here pass-through various lengths and rock formations, some of which have dramatic arches. After reaching a particular elevation, you can get a 360-degree view of Mt. Whitney and a western view backed by the Sierra Mountain range. Alabama Hills is also famous for overnight camping though considering you can only do dispersed camping, make sure you pack up for your essentials beforehand. 

3. Climb Mt. Whitney’s Summit

A trip to Lone Pine is always incomplete without summiting Mt. Whitney. Mt. Whitney is towering Sierras valley and Lone Pine and is noted as the tallest mountain in California and the tallest peak in the continental US. It gains an elevation of 14,505 feet and is quite popular amongst mountain climbers and hikers in the United States. Its summit is on the Sierra Crest and the Great Basin Divide, and the most popular route to the summit begins from Whitney Portal, West of Lone Pine. Hiking up till the summit is about 22 miles (round trip), gaining an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet and the trek here is marked as a strenuous and challenging endeavour. Every year, over 20,000 hikers plan their trek to Mt. Whitney and considering the popularity, a lottery permit is essential, mainly to prevent overuse and limit the traffic. Advanced level hikers, though, can pass the entire trek in one day; however, most of them camp overnight.

4. Spend Some Time In The Museum Of Western Film History

Museum of Western Film History is located on the south of Lone Pine. It runs with the motive of collecting, preserving, and presenting a diverse collection of western film memorabilia of Hollywood. Lone Pine and its nearby mountain regions have always been a backdrop of hundreds of movies and TV shows, and the museum pays homage to these landscapes. The museum building is full till neck with Western memorabilia from costumes to set decors, movie posters, old projectors and whatnot. Everything here is presented via a detail-oriented display, be it the permanent collection or rotating exhibition. It won’t be wrong if we classify this absolute first-class museum as the fascinating experience in Lone Pine, especially if you are a Movie enthusiast.

5. Consider Visiting the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Centre.

A mile south of Lone Pine, the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Centre can be reached right at the junction of US Highway 395 and State Route 136. While you are planning to explore the outdoors of this region, the visitors centre is the first place you must visit. Here you can learn about the area’s geological features, flora, fauna, primarily focusing upon Eastern Sierra Nevada and Northern Mojave Desert. Any permits and passes required for activity in the nearby region can only be obtained from the Visitors centre. However, it isn’t only a place to grab information, but if you want to capture the most pleasing distance views of Mt. Whitney, there is not a better place than this centre. The visitors centre also have a mini-museum with a large three denominational map as well as a gift shop.

6. Visit the Manzanar National Historic Site

A 12.9-mile drive towards the south of Lone Pine via US-395 N takes you towards the land of country sentiments, the Manzanar National Historic Site. The region basically highlights the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and a dark moment in the United States history. The Japanese Americans were incarnated here during World War II from 1942 March to 1945 November. While exploring the site, you will come across several fountains, stone alignment, rock gardens, and basically a live picturization of how conditions were for the ones who lived in camps. Today the sites pay tribute to all those who were incarnated and thus hold high sentimental values amongst the countrymen. There’s also an exhibition centre constituting a scale model, historical photographs, film footage, audio programs, a children’s exhibit and another point of interest.

7. Explore the Uniqueness of Owens Lake

Owens Lake is a dry lake (mainly) located south of Lone Pines, approximately 5 miles away. Until 1913, the lake had significant water, but with the diversion of Owens River to Los Angeles, the water started drying up to a great extent. However, today, what makes it popular are the hundreds of migrating birds and the excited bird watchers. Locals from Lone Pine often choose the Owens Lake region as their ultimate picnicking and relaxation spot. If lucky enough, you might also spot wildlife here, though always stay cautious of your surroundings. Owens Lake is open for exploration all throughout the year, but the best time to be here is from the late falls through the Spring. Here you might also find ruins of a historic soda ash plant that belongs way back to the 1920s and World War I.

8. Try Your Fishing Skills At Diaz Lake.

Diaz Lake is another lake that can be reached about 3 miles to the south of Lone Pines, and if you are interested in fishing, you cannot simply miss this spot. Diaz Lake covers a spread of 80 acres, gain an elevation of 3,674 feet, and is said to be formed by the 1872 earthquake in Lone Pines. Today it is famous for year-round fishing, especially for its pre-season start that draws fishermen for capturing Trout. The region also organizes Diaz Lake Fish Derby every first Saturday of March. Though not only fishing, one can also swim and do boating (motorized boats are only allowed for a limited time frame) in Diaz Lake. The feet of the lakeside are also open for picnic and camping, though you might not find many amenities here. Sunsets from Diaz Lake are also one of the most peaceful and beautiful views to capture.

9. Camp at the Lone Pine Campgrounds

Lone Pine indeed is one of the best Californian towns when it comes to camping and tenting. From standard electric sites to primitive hike-in campgrounds, there are endless options for camping here in the town, ideal for families, solo travellers or groups alike. The Diaz Lake campgrounds host nearly 120 campsites whereas the Portuguese Joe Campground, which though it is small, offer surrounding and views of Alabama Hills. For amazing views of mountains and non-electric sites, heading towards the West of the city to the Lone Pine Campground and Whitney Portal Campground is indeed a great option.

10. Walk Around The Town Side.

One of the safest cities in California, Lone Pine makes an ideal spot for solo trips, and you can stroll all throughout the region without much worrying about safety. Apart from hiking, mountain climbing and all other outdoor recreation, do not forget to wander the local town side on foot and get a glimpse of life here. On the main street, you will find Movie Star Signature Walls with autographs of several famous Hollywood stars. Roads here are filled with antique-looking boards, quirky neon signs, and a few historic buildings that together infuses a feeling of walking around in the West wild lanes. The town site also has some great eating options, including the Lone star bistro, the season’s restaurant, Margie’s merry go round and the grill.

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