If you’re in the mood for a scenic road trip, you don’t need to go far. Central California has some pretty awesome hidden gems. After all, Mammoth Lakes and its beautiful heart-shaped hot springs aren't the only worthwhile roadside stops along Highway 395. This super easy hike in California will make you feel like you're on another planet!
We’ve found a fantastic hiking and camping spot nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. To get there, drive west on Whitney Portal Road for about 2.7 miles. Then, turn right and follow Movie Flat Road. You’ve reached the Alabama Hills (yes, you’re still in California).
These are some of the strangest rock formations we’ve ever seen. You’ll feel like you’re on Mars while hiking this dramatic landscape! Everywhere you turn, nature’s wackiest playground will surround you.
Most of the year, you’ll be able to see snow on the top of the mountains, too. The heart-shaped hot springs aren’t the only things to see off of Highway 395. This often-overlooked spot was once a famous filming location for some popular Hollywood movies (Django Unchained, Gladiator, and Iron Man are just a few of them).
There are also plenty of fun hiking trails for you to explore. The path leading you to the famous Mobius Arch will get you right up close to some of the craziest looking rocks and big boulders. Keep your eyes open for the face rock, a scary-looking boulder painted with bright eyes and a big, sneaky grin.
The Alabama Hills is also an excellent spot for camping. For those looking to stay a little longer, you've picked a good spot to post up. You can pitch your tent anywhere you would like and get ready for some beautiful, clear nights.
Since you’re far from city smog, this is one of the best places to stargaze in all of central California. On most nights, you'll see shooting stars and even the Milky Way Galaxy! Spring and fall are the best times to visit since it's in the desert, plan accordingly.
We recommend coming prepared with plenty of food, water, your tent, extra layers, and sleeping bags. It can get pretty cold in the desert at night!
While you’re there, make sure to swing by Lone Pine (another awesome spot that’s only 2 miles away). It has some of the best views of the desert for miles around.
It's time to head out for your desert adventure. There are endless places in the Alabama Hills to explore!
Directions: Drive 2.7 miles south of Bishop along Whitney Portal Road on Highway 395 to Movie Flat Road. Turn right and follow the road until you get to a parking area near the Alabama Hills.
Camping Price: Free! It’s backcountry camping though, so there are no public restrooms and amenities.
Why You Should Go: The Alabama Hills is one of the most unique sights in central California. You can hike amidst crazy-looking rock formations that literally look out of this world and camp for free under beautiful clear, starlight skies.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.