I love the stretch of US 395 in California from Topaz Lake (no, from Walker Burger) to Death Valley. In May, Matt and I, along with our friends, Brian and Thea, drove the familiar stretch of highway along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to Lone Pine.
We were headed to Alabama Hills to camp for a couple of nights among the cool rock formations. We arrived a bit later than planned on a Friday evening, having stopped to eat at the Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop. The sun was just beginning to set as we drove around looking for a quiet spot. There were RV’s nestled in everywhere, so we continued to drive north on the dirt roads, almost completely out of the formations. And there it was, our spot, down a slightly gnarly dirt path.
Over the weekend we explored the natural arches, drove up Whitney Portal Road (the road takes you up to over 8,000 feet in elevation, about halfway up to Mt. Whitney. It’s also where the trail head is located to hike Whitney, elevation 14,505 at the summit.). We also visited the Museum of Western Film History, played around with night photography, and spent a good chunk of time hanging out on a rock at our campsite.
For me a clear night + camping = star trails. (These next two shots are the same. In the first image, when I went to compile the photos in the star trails software program I use, I included the shot I took to manually focus on the scene before it was too dark. The second image I did not include that shot. What a difference! Check out this post if you want to learn how to photograph star trails.)
Planning to visit the Alabama Hills? You could definitely get a feel for the place just by driving around through the rock formations, but it’s so much more fun to camp too. If you’re like us and want to have the place to yourself, drive north along Movie Road until you’re almost out of the rock formations and then head west on one of the dirt roads to find your perfect campsite.
Also, Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the internment camps where Japanese Americans were forced to live during World War II, is just down the highway. The interpretive center is very well done and so worth a visit. It’s an important part of our history that should not be forgotten.
And finally…This is completely unrelated, I’m about four months in to my monthly newsletter! It’s different from the blog in that I am writing more personal stories and giving more information/recommendations for the places I visit. It’s a bit more casual, and I’m hoping it will bring more interaction with you, my readers. I also link to my blog posts from there so if you’d like monthly updates as opposed to whenever I decide to post, there you go. We’ll see where it goes, so far it’s been fun!
Where can you sign up? Currently only through a pop up window when you go to my website (if you’re not reading this there already). The pop up appears only once! Otherwise, you can contact me here, and I can add you manually. (A little cumbersome I know, a salesperson I am not. You’re really going to have to want to sign up for this newsletter!)