Welcome to Inyo County, home to the highest and lowest point in the continental United States and to Lone Pine, one of Hollywood's favorite filming destinations.
Located about three hours north of Hollywood, and nestled in the foothills of the Eastern Sierra Mountains, the town of Lone Pine, California and the nearby Alabama Hills have been the locations for hundreds of films, commercials and television shows.
Named after a solitary pine tree that once stood at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon, this small California town's roots stretch back into the Old West — and Hollywood's Wild West, too.
Back in the mid-1800s, Lone Pine was founded to supply local miners with provisions. Farmers and ranchers followed, and after that, the Carson Colorado Railroad pulled into town. Today, the only part of pre-1870 Lone Pine that's still standing is a portion of an old adobe wall that stands behind the local coffee shop. A few miles to the east, you can wander among the decaying ghost-town ruins of Cerro Gordo.
Since the early years of filmmaking, directors, actors, producers and their production units large and small have packed up and left Hollywood for the great outdoors. One glance at the Alabama Hills, and you'll remember a host of immortal movie scenes.
Approaching the 100th anniversary of The Roundup (1920), the first documented film produced in the area, Lone Pine has played host to hundreds of the industry's best known directors and actors, among them directors William Wyler, John Ford, George Stephens and William Wellman; and actors as diverse as John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Downey, Jr., and Kevin Bacon. For movie buffs and television viewers around the world these hills in the Owens Valley have portrayed the wilds of the American West (Bad Day at Black Rock, 1954), the valleys of the Himalayas (Gunga Din, 1939), and the Arabian Desert (Iron Man, 2008).
Productions such as Tremors and Joshua Tree, were filmed at "movie ranch" sites known as Movie Flats and Movie Flat Road. In Gladiator, actor Russell Crowe rides a horse in front of the Alabamas, with Mount Whitney in the background, for a scene presumably set in Spain. Star Trek Generations was filmed here in addition to Overton, Nevada and Paramount. This range was one of the filming locations for Disney's Dinosaur. More recently, many parts of the films Iron Man and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were filmed here with continuing productions including Tarantino's, Django Unchained and, Disney's, The Lone Ranger.
To walk on the dirty concrete sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd is one thing. To come to Lone Pine, and cover the same ground as John Wayne, Hoot Gibson, and Buck Jones — well, that's another. It's a lot prettier, and it's a lot more inspiring. Grab a horse from a local pack outfit, and you'll feel like the Duke himself.
Hollywood connections are still alive and well; mostly because the Lone Pine area remains pristine and unspoiled. The preservation and documentation provided at the Museum of Western Film History enhances the experience.
A millennia of wind, snow and eons of wind-blown sand have blasted across the 30,000 acres of public land to create the crisply sculptured ridges of the Sierra now called Alabama Hills Recreation Area.
Located at the base of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, the Alabama Hills gather their name from a Confederate warship, responsible for wreaking havoc during the Civil War. Prospectors sympathetic to the Confederate cause named their mining claims after the Alabama and eventually the name stuck to these unique hills. Photographers come from all over the country to photograph this amazing view.
Whether you are here for movie history, the Sierra views, unique geological formations, identifying native plant life or photography, this area offers a variety of activities, including auto/motorcycle touring, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting and OHV use. Several self-guided interpretive brochures can be found online, including the Movie Road Self-Guided Tour, featuring "Real Movie Locations That You Can Find" containing pictures, a map and a short narration about each site and the movie that was filmed there. Ten historic movie locations, from "Gunga Din" to "How the West Was Won" to "Rawhide" are covered.
The annual Lone Pine Film Festival and the popular "On Location" tours have allowed thousands of visitors to step back in time. The dramatic and cinematic locations have allowed thousands to stand in the same place that Roy, Gene, Hoppy, The Lone Ranger and John Wayne stood. Many of the locations carry memorable names derived from movies filmed there; the Hoppy Rock, Lone Ranger Canyon and the Gene Autry Rock to name a few.