Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, CA–And Kissack Bay

Boondocking in Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, CA

Our Boondocking Spot at Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

Many of you are wondering, what the heck is “The Alabama Hills”, and what are they doing in California….well, I will cover that later.

Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

Looks like it is right out of a old western…or even Star Trek, huh?  More on that later.

Tight fit along Highway 178 headed to Lake Isabella

Only thing that surprised me today was the narrow stretch of road leading up to Lake Isabella, California Highway 178…headed east, the walls get a bit close on the right side…but we made it just fine.

Lake Isabella

Our plan was to stay at Lake Isabella last night…but we both agreed that having electricity, sewer hookups, long showers, and even cable TV was worth the extra $25.  On top of that, I was able to take my time and wash out the black tank through our cleanout nozzle real good…and Marcia was able to vacuum, which had been well over a week.  Lake Isabella was created in 1953, and at 11,000 acres, one of the larger reservoirs in California.  However, in 2006 the Dam was deemed unstable, and they won’t allow the water level to get above 60% capacity until years (like 15 years) of studies are done, and then they might repair the dam…maybe.  Isabella Dam bisects an active fault that could lead to a catastrophic failure if an earthquake occurs along it--a fault which was considered inactive when the site was studied in the late 1940s.  Don’t know how those folks who were displaced when the dam was built, and the reservoir started to fill feel about this…one such person is a very active reader of our blog.

Sign for Kissack Cove/Bay, Lake Isabella

Nancy Kissack was born in this area…rode her first horse, worked the ranch, and was literally displaced before she was a teenager.  Yes, they compensated her family for the ranch…they moved to the Merced area and had another ranch…but this was a family ranch, to be passed on, not buried under water.

Kissack Cove/Bay, Lake Isabella 

And this is Kissack Bay, or Kissack Cove (they call it by both names).  I could only imagine an old ranch house, lots of cattle, many acres full of brush, trees, snakes.  So “IF” they cannot repair the dam, will it revert back to her family???  Of course not…so sad.  (wipe your eyes and blow your nose Nancy)

 Joshua Trees along highway 178

A pleasant surprise was seeing the Joshua Trees along 178.  Just did not expect that, but it makes sense since they are also along Highway 58 to the south which we have taken many times.

Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Eventually we turn in a northeasterly direction on highway 14, and in no time at all, north onto 395 (although it was like 395 merged into 14 when 14 ended).  We were now on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Another hour up the road and we were in Lone Pine, where we turned west…Alabama Hills are just 4 miles in along Whitney Portal Road.

Mount Whitney, from Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

I parked at the intersection of Whitney Portal Road and Movie Flat Road.  I got into the HHR to find us a good spot, and Marcia got our first picture of Mount Whitney through the front window of the motorhome.  About 10 minutes later I returned, hooked up the HHR, and off we were to our new boondocking home in the Alabama Hills.

Our Boondocking Spot at Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA   Our Boondocking Spot at Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA
Our Boondocking Spot at Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

Go set up behind some rocks, out of the view of those traveling Movie Flat Road…set up the aircard antenna on the hood of our car and we have a weak 4G signal.  Set up the solar panels, and gave the dogs a bit of time outside. 

 Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA     Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA.

 Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA      Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

Alabama Hills is kind of like a place that one feels like they have seen before…

Black and White shot, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

In color, and in Black and White….

Have Gun Will Travel, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA   Cisco Kid, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

Gunga Din, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA    Star Trek Voyager, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

You see, LOTS of movies and TV shows were ‘shot’, in part, in the Alabama Hills.  Upper left, Have Gun Will Travel, Upper right, Cisco Kid, Bottom left, Gunga Din, and Bottom right, Star Trek Voyager.  Wikipedia list 386 films which were filmed, in whole or part, in the Alabama Hills/Lone Pine area.  Actors include John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, Spencer Tracy, William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), Gene Autry, Tyrone Power, James Stewart, Errol Flynn, Will Rogers, Randolph Scott, Gregory Peck, oh, the list goes on and on and on. And a dozen or more TV Shows, like Bonanza, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, and Have Gun Will Travel had episodes shot here.

 Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA    Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

As the sun went down, the scenery changes…the sky looks angry over to the northwest…

Mount Whitney, from our boondocking site,  Alabama Hills near Lone Pine CA

And YES, we get a view of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 in the United States, it is 14,505 feet in height, and lies 85 miles from the lowest point in the United States, Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park at 282 feet below sea level.


  1. Yup ... that's our ranch at the bottom of the lake. We are now told it's not for water storage, it's for RECREATION!! Wouldn't surprise me in the least if it failed.
    Love the Alabama Hills. All those movie stars stayed at the hotel my Grandmother managed. She got a big kick out of meeting them.
    Glad the canyon road didn't scare you off. Long parts of it are very narrow and winding. I wouldn't recommend it for big Class A's ... they might hit a rock wall or two. ENJOY!!

    1. WOW, we are all over your families old stomping grounds! This place is wonderful!

  2. Are there a lot of people boondocking at Alabama Hills? Seems like everyone has discovered it (including us :-D) and I'm a little worried that it will get overused. Such a beautiful and unique place!

    1. I saw under a dozen along the portion of Movie Flat Road that we traveled, not sure what a weekend would bring. Temps are in the high 70's to low 80's now, it can get a bit hot here in July and August. They do try and steer you to the campgrounds, we stopped at the NF rest area/office and got a few maps.


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