Friday, May 10, 2019

Alabama Hills National Scenic Area (CA)

We left Red Rock Canyon State Park on the morning of 01 May 2019, once again heading north. We stopped briefly in Pearsonville to catch up on our iPhones, to call my daughter, and to get veggie subs at Subway. (We added our own tasty vegan Provolone cheese, Tofurky deli slices, and our preferred special condiments to make them extra yummy!)

We drove to Lone Pine to get a few groceries (mostly produce). All the while, I was gawking at Mount Whitney, which is a major draw for hikers/mountaineers. Then we let Google Maps continue to direct us to our next camping adventure—Alabama Hills—where we hoped to boondock for a few days. [NOTE: In March 2019, Congress designated the Alabama Hills as a National Scenic Area as a part of the John D. Dingell, Jr Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.] After searching for an easily accessible campsite just off the main road (Movie Road) so Margaret’s Roadtrek wouldn’t bottom out on the rocks and potholes, we found a perfect pull-through site next to Movie Road farther in after it turned into a smaller dirt road. It was close enough to level that we only needed one leveling ramp. The view made almost anything worth it!

And what a welcome it is! Photo by Virginia.

Alabama Hills colorful granite. Photo by Virginia.
 Sunrise shadow and the view! Photo by Virginia.

After setting up the Roadtrek and putting the chairs out, I sat and took in the absolutely breathtaking grandeur of the area. The Alabama Hills area is eye-catching on its own, but with the Eastern Sierra Nevada as a backdrop…oh my! Margaret and I both thought these majestic mountains looked like a painted mural. They were towering and craggy gray with the snow looking like it dripped heavily from a painter’s brush. I couldn’t get enough of that view, which meant I sat outside for hours—the first morning with some spicy chai. When I went into the Roadtrek (after I lost my shade) to continue reading, I was drawn to look at them through the window every few seconds, no matter how good my current read was. Waking up in the morning, I could admire them through the window over Margaret’s bed as the sun rose behind me, casting them in a mild gold light.

Peaches enjoyed the view, too!

Peaches on the lookout! Photo by Virginia.

 Panorama of our gorgeous view. Video by Margaret.
[If you have trouble viewing this embedded movie, 
you may view it directly on YouTube here:]

Left to right 1 of 4: Our view of the fascinating boulders & majestic Sierras. Photo by Margaret.

Left to right 2 of 4: Our view of the fascinating boulders & majestic Sierras. Photo by Margaret.

Left to right 3 of 4: Our view of the fascinating boulders & majestic Sierras. Photo by Margaret.

Left to right 4 of 4: Our view of the fascinating boulders & majestic Sierras. Photo by Margaret.

Since we were right next to the road, there was quite a bit of traffic. I was surprised by the amount, even in the darkness of the early morning. It's a very popular place to camp, but the area is so vast that each rig can camp well spaced from the others. I think the entire area is granite. The boulders are granite, and the ground and roads are decomposed granite. The vehicles crunched as they drove over the roads, and all the pedestrians crunched as they walked or jogged. So, it wasn’t only a visual wonder, it was an audible one, as well.

On our second night there, Thursday, I cooked up miso ramen for dinner and topped it with some sautéed tofu, onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers (Miso Rice Ramen with Tofu & Veggies). It was pretty good, but I should have tossed some garlic in there too.

 Miso ramen with tofu and vegetables. Photo by Virginia.

There was absolutely no cell service at our campsite, but on Friday morning we drove down toward the southern entrance/exit where there was enough of a signal that I could receive a phone appointment call, and we could catch up online a little. It was great checking up on everything, but the entire time we were there I was worried that someone would take over our campsite. Oh, the anxiety! Imagine how happy Margaret and I were to find it unoccupied on our return. Whew!

Each morning I sat outside with my Kindle while Margaret took Peaches for an “adventure walk,” which she gets very animated for—Peaches, more than Margaret. ;>) In fact, I finished four books in the five nights we stayed there. Yes!


Each evening we enjoyed dinner from the comfort of our beds while we watched a couple or so episodes of a show Margaret had downloaded from Amazon Prime Video. It was called Cruisin’ Route 66 by Michael Wallis. It seemed appropriate since we had so recently done just that, albeit for a short length.

Saturday’s dinner was Amy’s vegan lasagna, slowly defrosted and cooked in the skillet, cut up, and served over whole wheat rotini pasta, plus a simmered marinara sauce with onion, garlic, and Italian herbs (Amy's Lasagna, Pasta Marinara, & Veggies). I steamed some garden-style vegetables, too. Just before serving, I tossed some cashews on top because who doesn’t love cashews?

Amy's Lasagna over whole wheat rotini plus marinara sauce with steamed veggies. Photo by Virginia.

We can’t recommend strongly enough that you visit this area if possible. It is very special! It is also BLM land and costs nothing to visit here. [The remainder of this paragraph was composed and inserted by Margaret for clarification.] We camped here because many sources indicated that it was an option. When I checked the BLM Website, the camping symbol indicates that camping is one user option, even though it isn't mentioned in the descriptive text below. Of course, the text also says horseback riding is a popular (and therefore assumed to be okay) activity; however, the equestrian symbol is not posted. Hmmm. When I checked the online BLM brochure (publication date 09-30-2018), all the wording about camping on the BLM land is vague and suggestive (hinting at dedicated campgrounds being preferable) but no strong statement about it being day use only. For example, the following statement on the brochure only mentions the City of Los Angeles owned lands in the area and not the BLM lands: "City of Los Angeles owned lands in the area are open for day use only." Very confusing, yes? LOTS of people were camping there, and we camped within BLM boundaries. We would do it again, but you all need to decide for yourselves.

Leaving this area on 06 May was the most difficult departure of any of our stops yet. It has its own kind of draw that’s difficult to express adequately.

NOTE: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view (recommended!). If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've shared, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.


Cyn said...

What a gorgeous place, V. I understand it being hard to leave. Question— could one of you stay at the campsite and keep it occupied while the other takes the Roadtrek and takes care of business, or is that not allowed? Seems like that might alleviate the anxiety a little. The pic of Peaches is DARLING!

Virginia Hill said...

Cyn, it is a very special place! 😱 Well, first, I have never driven the Roadtrek. Second, holding campsites is not allowed on unreserved BLM locations. Third, neither of us wants to sit in the open waiting for the other to return. And lastly, both of us wanted to catch up on our phones! Peaches IS darling but has a very feisty side. 😉

Unknown said...

I have wanted to go there however have been reluctant to pull in with my horse trailer. Your photos show that the road should be OK for trailers. Will have to make it a stop next trip to Bishop for Mule Days, just home from there yesterday. Love your blog, thanks so much for sharing.

Margaret Hill said...

Thank you for your comment. Glad you are enjoying our blog! We passed through Bishop only about a week before Mule Days. You should be fine bringing your horse trailer to Alabama Hills if you stick to the larger roads. Some of the smaller dirt roads are very narrow and rocky. I couldn't take my Roadtrek on those, but there are a lot of wider, well-graded roads you could park beside. We saw several horse trailers while we were there. If you have any doubts, just park and walk down a prospective road to assess its drivability before getting stuck and having to back out. Happy trails!