With rounded boulders and wind-etched terrain, California’s Alabama Hills are a wonderful place to explore with your dog. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees this beautiful landscape, set against the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas. Think of it like Joshua Tree National Park without the Joshua trees … and with much more freedom for your dog!
Exploring Alabama Hills with a Dog
The Alabama Hills are a destination for day hikers, rock climbers, campers, mountain bikers, and more. Essentially, anyone who wants to explore a unique landscape with outstanding mountain views will love it. Cool Whip, Hercules, and I fell into the several of those categories as we explored Alabama Hills in our dog friendly rental adventure van. We camped out, hiked along trails, searched for natural arches, and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
READ MORE ⇒ Renting A Dog Friendly Adventure Van
Just off Highway 395 near Lone Pine, Movie Road leads to Alabama Hills. This wash-boarded and sometimes sandy route is doable in most vehicles, as long as you take it slow and use extra caution if it rains. The road is named for the numerous movies that were filmed in the area. Some titles you might recognize include Rawhide, How the West was Won, Tremors, Gladiator, and Iron Man. If you’re a movie buff, pick up the self-guided tour brochure of some of the filming locations from the The Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine.
And don’t overlook the lovely little town of Lone Pine! Just 10 minutes from Alabama Hills, this is your closest access to gas stations, dining, and hotels. Several of the restaurants have dog friendly patios when you’re ready to kick back and relax. Also, some of the hotels have pet friendly rooms if you’re not up for camping.
Camping in Alabama Hills
Camping options are plentiful throughout the Alabama Hills area. Turtle Creek Campground (BLM), Lone Pine Campground (Forest Service), and Portagee Joe Campground (Inyo County) all offer designated campsites for RVs and tents. Also, any of the previously disturbed locations tucked amongst the boulders can be used for dispersed camping. Just take care not to disturb sensitive environmental areas. The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and the BLM monitor the health of the land and occasionally fence off areas to preserve and promote the growth of native plants.
READ MORE ⇒ A Beginner’s Guide to Camping With Dogs
Hiking in Alabama Hills with a Dog
Natural arches are a big draw in Alabama Hills. Mobius Arch and Lathe Arch are two of the most popular arches as they provide perfectly framed views of Mount Whitney. The trail to these arches is short and well maintained, so it’s a great option for any dog.
Cyclops Arch and Boot Arch can be found if you venture north of the main area in Alabama Hills. There are no signs marking the trails for these two arches, so get directions online before you go. They are worth scouting out if you and your dog enjoy exploring less-defined trails and a bit of solitude. And there are a multitude of other unnamed arches, holes, and lookouts through the Hills that you’ll come across while wandering among the boulders.
READ MORE ⇒ Off-Leash Hiking on Federal Lands
The rocks in the Hills are part of fun. Their unique texture makes the boulders very “grippy” and fairly easy to scramble across. Cool Whip and Hercules climbed up and over every rock they encountered without any abnormal wear and tear on their paws. But protective boots are a good idea if your pup has sensitive paws or is not used to rough textures.
READ MORE ⇒ Which Dog Boots Are Best?
Alabama Hills is very popular in the spring and late fall when the weather is ideal for exploring outdoors (highs around 65-70 degrees). Use caution when visiting this area in the summer as the temperatures climb into the high 90s. There is no potable water in the Hills, so be sure to fill up before you leave Lone Pine. Once you arrive at Alabama Hills, you and your dog are not going to want to leave!
Have you explored Alabama Hills with your dog? Share your tips in the comments below!
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