A long time ago, Westways Magazine by Auto Club, had an issue dedicated to Highway 395 in California. I became obsessed with it, though it would not be until many years later that I would start to actually explore it. It really does have a lot of stunning scenery all along its length.
My recent trip was to Lone Pine. Brian, my boyfriend, got out of work early on a Saturday, giving us time to take a roadtrip. Lone Pine is about 3 hours away from Los Angeles. We drove straight there, with no stops, since it was still winter and sunlight was gone in the 5 o’clock hour. We checked into our hotel, then headed out to grab some pizza.
Sunday morning, we woke up to the glorious view of mountains, which includes Mt. Whitney. After some coffee, we stopped at the Museum of Western Film History. The caffeine had yet to kick in for me, so when we were asked if we would like to see the 15-minute film they offered, I was not terribly interested, but my boyfriend Brian said, “Yes!” So, we did and I was glad. It was actually cool to see how many movies had been filmed in the Alabama Hills. With the stunning mountains, and otherworldly rock formations, it is the perfect location for Western films, or any film, actually.
The museum has displays, including vehicles that were used in the movies filmed there, like a 1937 Plymouth Coupe from “High Sierra”, clothes worn by old timey actors, like Fatty Arbuckle and John Wayne, and modern actors, such as Robert Downey Jr in “Iron Man.” And yes, a gift shop with books!!! Always the books. It is a smaller museum, so only took about 45 minutes to see everything. It was a great way to start the day of activities.
We drove up to Manzanar National Historic Site. On our way back south, we pulled over to see the grave of some of the victims of an earthquake in 1872 in Owens Valley. There is a place to safely pull over off of Highway 395. It is a very short walk from your car. Sixteen of the victims are buried within a fenced area.
Next, we went to the Alabama Hills. Drive up Movie Road and park. You can walk to different movie sites. We grabbed a map from the Film Museum earlier in the day. There are also 2 arches that are quick and easy walks (in addition to the areas used for films.) Be prepared to wait for a bit if you would like a photo by the arches. There was not a long line, but just enough people hanging around that I gave up and just sneaked in a photo during the moments people were out of view. There are certainly more hikes in the area, but if you are looking for something simple to do with the family, this is a good area.
Next, we drove closer to Mt. Whitney, which is on the same road we took to see the arches and filming sites. My car is really old, so I didn’t go too far, as it looked like more incline than she can handle these days. There really were no other cars on the road, so we pulled over to gaze. Camping is available in the area, FYI.
After a while, we left Lone Pine and went on our way to see more cool things along Highway 395.
Museum of Western Film History, 701 S. Main Street, Lone Pine, CA 93545
There is a fee for entry. Ample Parking.
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