Photography . . . Travel . . .

Monday, May 21, 2018

Road Trip - Lone Pine, California - Part 1

Heather and I recently went for a four-day 790-mile road trip to the town of Lone Pine, California.  Lone Pine, located on US-395 about 280 miles north of San Diego, sits in the high desert Owens Valley at about 3,700' elevation, between the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountains.  The town dates back to the 1860's, and since about the 1920's the area (including the nearby Alabama Hills) has been the location for the filming of many movies and TV shows.  We've been driving past this little town for years but have never stopped.  This time we spent three nights there, and it was great. 

I refreshed the maps in the navigation system . . .

. . . packed up the Xterra . . .

. . . activated the speech-recognition and turn-by-turn direction features of the navigation system . . .

. . . and we hit the road.

Our first stop was the visitor center at the Rio Tinto US Borax mine outside of the town of Boron, California.  A giant hole in the ground (California's largest open pit mine) can actually be quite interesting.  The open pit is over two miles long, and even with my ultra-wide lens I could not get all of it in the frame.

They don't use the Twenty Mule Team rigs to move the borax these days, now it's giant haul trucks with 12' foot high tires.

I had to do it, the sign did say it was a "selfie station".

Later we stopped at Fossil Falls to check out the rather interesting geology.  This geological feature was formed 20,000 to 10,000 years ago, when melting glaciers in the Sierra Nevada range flowed down over and eroded a basaltic lava flow from a nearby volcano.

We stayed at the Dow Villa Motel, which was built in 1957 alongside the older (1923) Dow Hotel.  The rooms have been modernized, and this is probably the best hotel in the area, and very nice.  It's also very well located, walking distance from several very good restaurants including Seasons, the Merry Go Round, The Grill, and the Alabama Hills Cafe, all of which we can recommend.

It was a little on the cool side (almost raining actually) on Tuesday morning, and our first stop was the Alabama Hills for some wandering and hiking in the rock formations.  Film production companies have been filming here since the 1929's, and many famous movies and TV shows were filmed here, including The Lone Ranger, Gunga Din, Tremors, Star Trek  Generations, Iron Man, and countless Westerns.

The Alabama Hills today are at about 4,500' elevation, and close to the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  On Tuesday when we were there the Sierras and the Inyos were pretty much covered in clouds and mist.

From what I hear you can frame a view of Mt. Whitney in this arch, which would make for a pretty cool picture.  Not on the day we were there.  It's somewhere in that direction, under the cloud cover.

Eventually the clouds started to break up, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains came into view, more or less.

We decided that was a good sign that it was time to get back in the Xterra and head up to Whitney Portal to check out the trailhead to Mt. Whitney.  As we climbed in elevation the clouds came back.

Continued in Part 2.

This blog post is in five parts.  Click on Older Posts at the bottom right side of the page if they don't all show up.  There are links to galleries with more photos in the last post.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.