Arches in the Alabama Hills

Lone Pine, CA

The Alabama Hills are a range of hills and rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just west of Lone Pine.  The rounded contours of the hills contrast with the sharp ridges of the Sierra Nevada to the west.  Although this might suggest that they formed from different forces and events, the Alabama Hills are the same age as the nearby Sierras.  The difference in wear can be accounted for by different patterns of erosion.

The Alabama Hills were named for the Confederate warship CSS Alabama during the Civil War.  When news of the ship’s exploits reached prospectors in California sympathetic to the South, they named many mining claims after it and the name came to be applied to the entire range.

Many natural arches of various sizes and shapes can be found in the Alabama Hills.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) joined us on two recent trips to the hills in search of some of the arches.  The photos below show many we found in those explorations using the book Arches of the Alabama Hills by Orlyn Fordham.

Heart Arch

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

The other side of the Mobius Arch

Lathe Arch

View through the Lathe Arch

Eye Candy through the Lathe Arch

A photo-bomber — this guy photo-bombed many of our photos!

Space Case Arch with Baseball Bat Arch on the right

Closer look at Baseball Bat Arch

Eye of Alabama Arch

Pass Arch

Stevenson Arch

Bikini Top Arch

Close look at the arch in Bikini Top Arch

OK, its not an arch, but its an interesting rock

Brena Arch (there’s that photo-bomber)

Old Tom Arch

The Bank’s Jeep through Old Tom Arch

Cyclops Arch

Taking a break

Laughing Arch (photo-bombed again!)

Slot Canyon Arch

Elusive Arch

Mile Arch (and another visit from the photo-bomber!)

After our second day of searching for arches, we drove to the nearby Tuttle Creek Campground where Eric and Laurel (ravenandchickadee) were camped as they had invited us for happy hour.  Jodee and Bill, who are staying in the same RV park as us, also joined the group.  We had a couple hours of pleasant conversations while enjoying drinks and snacks.  The desert cools rapidly when the sun sets so Eric made a great fire to warm us as we shared stories.

Eric, John, Laurel, Jodee, Bill, Sue, and Dave (is that the photo-bomber?)

We had planned to stay in Lone Pine for a week but have found there is just too much to do and see here.  So we “re-upped” for another week to do some more exploration.

More on that later . . .

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30 Responses to Arches in the Alabama Hills

  1. Dick Savage says:

    I’m from N CA but had no idea these archs were there. Thanks for sharing. Looks like I need to plan a trip back there.

  2. Sue says:

    Great pictures of the arches with their proper names…..I keep forgetting them as we search. Its the journey for me I guess! Love the one with the jeep in the center!

  3. explorvistas says:

    You just have to love that requires a re-up! Great find!

  4. pmbweaver says:

    We haven’t been to the Alabama Hills but we have been on the SS Alabama.

    The Mobius Arch photo is terrific! Frame that one.

    Who is writing this blog. Whoever it is doesn’t describe Eye Candy the same way I do…of well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder:)

    What a cool hike. I love all the arches, and your photos (even the bombed ones) are super. Enjoy your extended stay.

    • placestheygo says:

      Haha! Yes, I guess not everyone has the same idea of eye candy:)

      Now you need to come visit the Alabama Hills to go with your SS Alabama tour!

      Thanks, Marsha! Glad you enjoyed the photos:)

  5. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the tip on the arches book, looks like a new fun geocache adventure. Will try to find some next time. The VC offers maps to some off the filming locations.

    • placestheygo says:

      I understand there are several geocache adventures in the Hills! We have the guide book for the movie sites, as well, but we haven’t gotten to that yet. That will happen later this week:)

  6. I enjoyed this post, friends in search of arches. You did very well on your quest for you have seen and posed in a lot of them. Steve and I just found 4 and got lazy after that.
    The photo bomber fortunately enhances all the arch pictures 🙂
    What a fun day with the Banks!

    • placestheygo says:

      Having the arch book with maps and general locations is very helpful. The book has divided the Hills into sections. We have fun just running through all the rocks trying to find what we are looking for, which usually leads to finding new and interesting things. I just like having a purpose to get out and climb the rocks:) Dave and Sue certainly add to our fun times:)

  7. mrebele says:

    Are there any arches that don’t require too much hiking? Arthritis in the knees prevents long hard hikes, but I’m good for a mile or two of not too strenuous hiking. Those arches are awesome and I’d love to see some on them sometime in the future. We’re still a few years out from fulltiming but I’m loving your blog and want to get out and do some exploring.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks so much for joining us:) There are many arches that don’t need much hiking at all. We are driving around the dirt roads looking and many can be seen from the car or just a short walk. There isn’t any long distance hiking except for the Whitney Portal Arch. That was a hike in sand. So you will have a great time looking for them:)

  8. Fun, fun, fun! I love them all and the goofiness that ensued!

  9. Laurel says:

    You guys have done an amazing job on your arch-quest! That photo of John through Lathe Arch made me laugh out loud. Eye candy, indeed! The Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce needs that one for a postcard, haha!

  10. Nancy says:

    You all are having way too much fun. Love the arches!

  11. Janna says:

    You guys found some arches–WOW!

  12. Becky says:

    Thanks so much for sharing about all the arches. Some great photos. Your post has Andrew and I excited to visit Alabama Hills and Lone Pine in new year.

    • placestheygo says:

      Becky, make sure you plan a long stay for this area. The boondocking out in the Hills is fantastic. So many perfect coves in amongst the rocks with smooth dirt roads to get to them!

  13. LuAnn says:

    You did an amazing job of capturing those arches. Having been out there exploring ourselves, I know how difficult it is to find some of them. Looks like a great time with friends.

    • placestheygo says:

      Having the book with maps of the different section and photos of the arches sure has made finding the arches a lot easier. There is another site that shares the arches but only has GPS coordinates. That would take forever to find them that way. We still have two sections left!! More fun ahead!

  14. Lenore says:

    You look like you’re having a ball. What a unique place those Hills are.

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