Flickr album link: Alabama Hills Recreation Lands
The Alabama Hills Recreation Lands are located at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains next to the town of Lone Pine. Lone Pine is the gateway to Mt Whitney and the access to the portal is located next to the Alabama Hills. When considering that Mt Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, it is easy to imagine that there will be climate extremes to negotiate even in the lower elevations. The weather in the eastern Sierra Nevadas can change dramatically with little warning, especially during the autumn season, so it is best to plan accordingly when packing the gear. Alabama Hills is only in the mile high range, so the warm temperatures may last well into October. On the down side, that first cold snap can truly be an icy cold experience and it will nearly always come as an overnight surprise.
Hiking the trails up to Mt Whitney during the fall season certainly is tempting because there are no big crowds and the chilly temperatures are invigorating. The problem is the conditions can change from sunny and mild to a freezing white-out blizzard in less than an hour in this region. The towering Sierra Nevadas have a way of hiding storm fronts from view and there is no cellular service further up in the mountains, so the weather warnings may go unheard. Many people who simply went out for an autumn season sunny casual hike on Mt Whitney. have ended up freezing to death while lost in deep snow, so it is best to not roll the dice. The lower elevations are much safer to explore during fall and this is where the Alabama Hills Recreation Lands come into play.
For those who have been to Joshua Tree National Park, the Alabama Hills terrain will look familiar. This recreation area is composed of miles upon miles of heavily eroded and splintered bare bedrock hills that are remnants of an ancient volcanic age. The rounded boulders have interesting shapes and anywhere that a visitor looks there will be captivating sights to see. Hiking or biking through the boulder mounds certainly is a pastime, while rock climbing is a popular activity too.
Along the road to Whitney Portal toward the edge of the mountains there are a couple of developed campgrounds that are perfect for setting up a basecamp. The views of the Owens Valley from the high ground are astounding to see, especially after the first snow of the season. Dramatic photos of the front range in the Whitney Portal gap can also be captured, while the late season change of colors will add the dramatic touch that landscape artists dream of. The Alabama Hills Recreation Lands truly is a place that offers peaceful scenic splendor during the autumn season, so be sure to not hesitate before the window of opportunity closes till next spring!
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