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The Mysterious Alabama Hills of California

Updated on October 7, 2014

The Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills is a small, fascinating area just off of Highway 395 in California.

The area has been used as the setting in numerous movies, commercials, and music videos.

The weathered boulders that make up the area are extremely beautiful, sitting at the base of the sheer eastern face of the Sierra Nevada, and yet so many people don't even know it's there and so drive right past.

Why are they called the Alabama Hills when they aren't in Alabama?

It seems odd to have an area in California, clear across the country from the state of Alabama, named the Alabama Hills. This area is actually named for a Confederate warship named the Alabama. Many miners in the Lone Pine area were Confederate sympathizers, and hearing about the exploits of the warship, The Alabama, they named numerous mining claims in honor of it. Eventually the entire area became known as the Alabama Hills.

When the Alabama was sunk by the Union Kearsarge in 1864, the Union sympathizers to the north named a mining district, a mountain pass, a mountain peak, and a town after their favorite warship, The Kearsarge.

Rent or Buy: Weekend Explorer

Weekend Explorer Eastern Sierras, California
Weekend Explorer Eastern Sierras, California
Episode Highlights: This is a land of stark contrasts and incredible scenery. Come along as we hike to a High Sierra lake on the trail to the highest peak in the continuous United States;explore the Alabama Hills, site of famous movies starring John Wayne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and many others

Just a Few of the Many Movies That Have Been Filmed in the Alabama Hills

  • Star Trek V
  • Star Trek VII
  • Nevada
  • Tremors
  • North to Alaska
  • Rawhide
  • Riders of the Purple Sage
  • Hop-A-Long Cassidy (Enters)
  • How the West Was Won
  • Farewell to Manzanar
  • G.I. Jane
  • Chaplin
  • Maverick
  • The Lone Ranger
  • The Great Race
  • Where the Buffalo Roam
  • The Flintstones
  • The Man From Utah

Alabama Hils Movie History - by openroadtv

Get Lone Pine in the Movies: Commemorative Edition

Lone Pine in the Movies: Commemorative Edition
Lone Pine in the Movies: Commemorative Edition
Learn more about the movie history of Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills in this commemorative edition of Lone Pine in the Movies.

Movie History of the Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills have a long history of being a filming location. There have been numerous movies, commercials, and music videos filmed there and new ones are often added.

See Where the Movies Are Made

On Location in Lone Pine See Where the Movies Are Made
On Location in Lone Pine See Where the Movies Are Made
See where the movies were made in Line Pine and the Alabama Hills.

Rawhide Burial Site

Description from the maker of the video below:

"I give commentary on a few examples of movies filmed here, but many more have shown this area in them (Ex. Tremors, Hopalong Cassidy movies, etc.). This one may take some pauses and repeated watching to figure out everything I show since I did not explain everything. Some is obvious, but some things are subtle.

I have an old blog on this location:"

His blog is very good and has information on several different spots in the Alabama Hills and what is filmed where.

Tremors Movie Trailer

During the Lone Pine Film Festival

Learn More About Lone Pine

Lone Pine (CA) (Images of America)
Lone Pine (CA) (Images of America)
This book is filled with interesting images of Lone Pine and its history.

Lone Pine CA "The Cowboy Way" Balloon Brush Cowboys

Postcards Featuring the Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Twenty Postcards (Companion Press Series)
Eastern Sierra: Twenty Postcards (Companion Press Series)
Postcards are a great way of finding little nooks and crannies you can search for while in the area, as well as giving you ideas of pictures to take, or replacing the pictures all together.

Learn More About the Geology of the Basin and Range

The Broken Land: Adventures in Great Basin Geology
The Broken Land: Adventures in Great Basin Geology
Frank DeCourten is a professor at Sierra College and I've taken several classes with him. Not only is he an all around great guy, but he's also a great teacher and writer. This book is about the Basin and Range, the geologic area between the Eastern Sierra and the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. It is a land of extension and has expanded to double its original size. The Alabama Hills are just a small part of the overall complexity of the area. Learn about the Basin and Range, why it is being created, what it is, and how it affects you by checking out this great book.

The Arches of the Alabama Hills

© 2009 Alisha Vargas

What do you think of the Alabama Hills?

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    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 years ago from La Verne, CA

      We have driven past here many times and have not visited. My other vacationers are too interested in fishing. WE used to camp at Convict Lake every year. If you should ever travel on Route 66 and make a lens please let me know. I have a route 66 group I am trying to add lenses too.

      This one is very good. I just love 395.

    • AlishaV profile imageAUTHOR

      Alisha Vargas 

      12 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      [in reply to kiwisoutback] You probably did pass right by if you went to Death Valley along Highway 395, so many people do and never even realize the Alabama Hills are there. Thanks so much for lensrolling it to your lens, I'll try to reciprocate once I figure out how to do it. Thanks you very much for the Squid Angel blessing too. It's my first ever!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      12 years ago from Massachusetts

      Wow, this area is beautiful. I may have passed close by this area on my way to Death Valley. I'm lensrolling this to my Death Valley lens, and Squid Angel blessing it too!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Great lens alishav.


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