Visit one of the least known, but most beautiful areas to camp in California! Most people outside of the state have never even heard of this area! We have camped in hundreds of locations around the country and this was one of our all time favorites!
Western films and movie makers have come here for many years to shoot some of the most iconic scenes in history. We stumbled upon this wonderful location when we were planning out our year in the campervan. We spent a whole week here amongst the imposing mountains and wild rocky landscape. Find out everything you need to know about Alabama Hills camping in this comprehensive guide below!
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Table of Contents
Best Alabama Hills Camping Guide
What are the Alabama Hills?
The Alabama Hills is a large area next to the Sierra Nevada Mountains with a wonderful view of Mount Whitney. These hills are known for their large rock formations, imposing hill sides, and movie locations. Most people come to the Hills to camp amongst the wild landscape and get off-grid for a little. There are plenty of great spots to camp in this wild natural setting.
Things to know About Camping
- You can find dispersed camping sites in the park to stay at for free. Outside of the Movie Road area there are a few paid campgrounds.
- Dispersed camping is free and it is one of the best way to experience this gorgeous landscape. When you disperse camp you must pack in and pack out everything you bring to the campsite. There are no facilities and you need to be self-contained. Additionally, you should only camp in areas where people have camped before and not over any vegetation.
- You will need to pack in and pack out whatever you will need for your time camping. They are implementing a permit system in 2022. The permits will be free, but you need to apply in order to acknowledge that you will abide by their rules and regulations.
- If you want to have a campfire in California, then you will need to apply for a campfire permit. Permits are free The max stay is 7 days within a 28 day period.
- Look for a camp space that is between boulders to block any wind. When we were there, wind was howling all around us and that isn’t rare there. Boulders will help to block the wind a little bit.
- Always remember to follow Leave No Trace Principles when camping.
Where to Camp
Alabama Hills camping was some of our favorite moments in the van so far. Most of the park is oversaw by the Bureau of Land Management, which means there are plenty of places to camp for free. Although they are starting to restrict more of the camping areas in 2022, so look for signs that say no parking. There are still some areas off of Movie Road where camping is alllowed.
As long as there are no signs prohibiting camping and there is no vegetation, then you are welcome to camp in those spots. We found great areas right off of Movie Road with amazing views of the mountains and rock formations. I recommend that you download the iOverlander app with specific details on camping coordinates. There were plenty of other RVs and vans camping around us in the hills when we were there.
Best Time to Go
You can visit the Alabama Hills year round, but the best time to visit is in the spring and fall. In the spring, you can experience warmer temperatures during the day and be able to see the snow-capped mountains. The fall also has a temperate climate, but you won’t be able to see the snow on the mountains just yet.
The winter and summer can see extreme temperatures in either direction. However, we visited in the winter and we enjoyed the peace and quiet in the park, but we were also there during a wind advisory. At night, I thought our van would just topple over and we ran our diesel heater every night to stay warm!
How to Get There
Many people visit the Alabama Hills as part of a larger road trip and the only way to get there is to drive. The hills are 3 hours from Los Angeles and are situated off of US Route 395. From 395, take a turn onto Whitney Portal Road and continue on for a couple of miles to reach the hills. Inyo National Forest is just above the hills, so you can easily add that to your trip as well.
Things to Do in the Alabama Hills
There are so many great things to do within the Alabama Hills. Adventurers come from all around the country to explore this amazing landscape and do various outdoor activities. Below are some of the best things to do!
Alabama Hills Activities:
- Motorbike or drive through the landscape
- Hike the one Arch loop trail to Mobius and Heart Arch
- Search for the more than 70 arches
- Drive down Movie Road to see filming locations
- Visit the Museum of Western Film History.
You will fall in love with the Alabama Hills when you are there. I highly recommend spending a weekend trying the Alabama Hills camping spots and seeing what this beautiful destination has to offer. You will see why this area has captured the hearts of many movie makers in the past!
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