Plan Your Visit
The museum is located in Lone Pine directly on Highway 395 in the Owens Valley at the southern edge of the Sierra Nevada. From the town of Lone Pine, the drive to the base of Mt. Whitney at the portal (the road ends at the trailhead) is stunning. The Alabama Hills are only a few minutes’ drive from the museum and provide many opportunities to explore. The road to Death Valley is just south of the museum. Allow at least a full day of sightseeing around Death Valley, the drive from Lone Pine to Panamint Springs is roughly an hour, 2 hours to Furnace Creek, and nearly 3 hours to Badwater.
In the immediate area, use our Alabama Hills self guided map to see where specific movies were shot.
The entire area is known as the Gateway to the Sierra. Our comprehensive guide to the area lets you choose communities and activities to find everything from lodging and camping sites, to golf and rockclimbing. Go to the Gateway page to search. If you are plannning a long distance hike requiring vehicle parking for multiple nights, the museum has a limited number of extended parking spots available. Paid parking permits are required to leave your vehicle in our lot overnight ($5/night or $25/week). Vehicles parked in our lot overnight without a paid permit may be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense. Please click here for more information.
In addition, take a look at some of the area’s other places of interest including:
Alabama Hills (BLM)
Lone Ranger Canyon
Iron Man Movie Location
Motor Touring in the Eastern Sierra
Mt. Whitney Golf Course
Owens Lake (Bird Festival)
Inyo County Campground
Backroad Tours in the Eastern Sierra
Gateway to the High Sierra
For more than a century filmmakers have cast the Alabama Hills in hundreds of movies set in the Eastern Sierra Mountain region along U.S. Highway 395. The Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, California is where your High Sierra adventure begins. Dedicated to chronicling western film history and its impact on American Culture, the Museum’s 10,000 square feet exhibit a broad and diverse collection of western film memorabilia. Film programs, artifact preservation and exhibits, including interpretive projects and displays, provide narrative support for the movies, actors, directors, producers and most importantly, the landscapes that served as a canvas for their stories.
Lone Pine and Whitney Portal, in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. and the Eastern Sierra at 14,505 feet and the vast Horseshoe Meadow at 10,000 feet are your gateway to remarkable outdoor experiences for individuals and families that will be shared for a lifetime.
For Mountain climbers, Mt. Whitney and numerous other peaks challenge high peak adventure. The Alabama Hills provide diverse opportunities for bouldering, horse-back riding, mountain-biking, rock climbing and scrambling.
More moderate activities including bird watching, fishing, hiking, incredible photography options including seasonal wildflowers,geological formations and searching for the myriad of movie locations. New Off-Road adventure courses have been designated. Of course, for all, great camping in the Eastern Sierra landscape and under the magnificent Milky Way sky.
Highway 395. Your gateway to adventure begins in Lone Pine, CA and offers options to all compass points. A few of these include:
South to the Native Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns, The Olancha Sand Dunes and the Indian Wells Lava Flows and Fossil Falls.
East to the mining towns of Keeler and Darwin and on to Death Valley, with over three million acres of remarkable experiences including, Badwater, the lowest point of land in the USA. (282 feet below sea level)
North, outside of Big Pine is the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. At over 10,000 feet the remoteness and moonscape appearance gives the Patriarch Grove a surreal atmosphere. Self-guided trails through the bristlecone and limber pines against a dramatic background view of the Great Basin in Nevada is a lifetime memory. Also South-East of Big Pine are the Eureka Dunes, one of tallest sand dunes in America, over 700 feet in elevation.
West all along the route of Highway 395 are incredible views of the Eastern Sierra, hiking trailheads into wilderness heights and valleys and access to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Your appetite for adventure will be fueled by many choices. Restaurants along all of 395 offer varied menus of traditional fare and local tradition. Merchants offer all the varied services from auto to outdoor supplies. A wide range of motels and RV parks can accommodate individuals or large groups. The Museum also offers a Tesla Supercharging Station for the growing legion of Tesla owners.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the popular questions asked by visitors:
Where is a good place to eat?
The town has many great eating places, from pizza to fine dining. A list of all the restaurants is available on our Gateway to the Sierra page.
What else is there to do in Lone Pine?
There are many local points of interest including Mt. Whitney Portal, Cottonwood Creek Charcoal Kilns, an Ashram at 8000’, Olancha Sand Dunes, numerous hiking trails, movie locations, historic cemeteries and many others. The Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce at 120 S. Main Street has maps and brochures to help you plan your exploration of the area. The Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center on Highway 395 just south of Lone Pine has further information.
Where is Mt. Whitney?
Mt. Whitney is located about 12 miles almost directly west of the museum. A live webcam is located on the museum building providing a continuous view of this peak. Whitney Portal Road runs from downtown Lone Pine west through the Alabama hills to the trailhead for hiking Mt. Whitney (known as Whitney Portal). The webcam can be seen at: www.whitneyzone.com.
Look West! Mt Whitney is the tallest peak in the continental U.S. at 14,505. See more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Whitney
When standing in front of the museum, Mt. Whitney is visually aligned behind the museum looking west. Across the street from the museum, in front of the US Forest Service administrative office, you can look through a mounted scope that sights Mt Whitney directly in the scope.
Note: Lone Pine Peak is sometimes mistaken for Mt Whitney as it appears to be the tallest peak slightly southwest of the museum, this perspective is distorted because Lone Pine Peak is closer to Lone Pine, but its elevation is 12,949’
Is the Portal open & where are the trailheads?
Whitney Portal is generally open from April through October. Whitney Portal Road leads directly to the Portal, where trailheads are marked. Also, please be aware that hiking permits and use restrictions are required within the Whitney Zone. Please consult the The Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center for trailhead information and updates. www.recreation.gov/wildernessAreaDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72201
How do you get a permit to climb Mt. Whitney?
Mt Whitney is a strenuous and popular hike that requires a special permit. Each year, thousands of applicants enter the Mt Whitney lottery in the hopes of obtaining a coveted permit for a specific date. Some same day and walk-up permits are issued when available.
See the link above or contact the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center south of Lone Pine. Climbing Mt. Whitney without a permit is prohibited.
Are there campgrounds or RV parks in the area?
Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce camping information is listed here
What motels/hotels do you recommend in Lone Pine?
The community has three major Motels, the Historic Dow Villa, The Best Western Frontier and the Comfort Inn. These are complemented by seven independent hotels and motels – all of whom cater to the travelers needs on Highway 395.
Where can we board our horses?
Local area corrals include:
Tuttle Creek Campground – make advance reservations
www.blm.gov/visit/tuttle-creek, (760) 872-5008
Lloyd’s of Lone Pine Western Store – call (760) 876-4371 or check at the store 141 N. Main Street for information
Boulder Creek RV Resort has a corral for two or three horses, call (760) 876-4243 for reservations.
Is there horseback riding in the area?
There are two pack stations, Rock Creek Pack Station and McGee Creek Pack Station.
Are there any rodeos in Lone Pine?
Lone Pine has a history of Rodeo from the 1940s through the early 1970’s. Unfortunately, rodeo action in the arena behind the Museum is limited to local events.
Can we park in your lot?
You are invited to park in our lot to visit the museum or while visiting Lone Pine.
Parking/Camping overnight is not permitted and cars/RVs are subject to tow without an extended parking permit.
Extended Parking Permits: During the summer hiking season, the museum makes some spaces available in its parking lot for extended long-term hiker parking. For more information and a reservation form, please click here
Who owns the Alabama Hills?
The Alabama Hills are owned by the public and managed by the Bureau of Land Management whose regional office is in Bishop, CA.
Where is Mobius Arch?
Located about five miles from the museum, the Mobius Arch and others on the trail are naturally eroded granite. The Mobius Arch has been famously photographed by Ansel Adams and many other talented photographers. Walking to the arch from the road requires a short hike. A brochure at the Museum desk has details.
Where is Lone Ranger Canyon?
Located about four miles from the museum, Lone Ranger Canyon has been a film location for many movies, including the 1938 Republic Serial – The Lone Ranger. A brochure at the Museum desk has details.
Where are the closest Hot Springs?
The closest hot springs are the pools at Keough’s Hot Springs about 8 miles north of Big Pine and 7 miles south of Bishop (approximately 45 minutes drive north of Lone Pine). Built in 1919 they are the still the same pools used today.
How far is Mammoth?
Approximately two hours north traveling on Highway 395.
Is there a market in Lone Pine?
Yes, Lone Pine Market is a fully stocked grocery store in the middle of town. Food, snacks, beer, and soda are also available at the gas stations.
Are there designated areas for off-roading?
Yes, please consult the museum front desk as this option is relatively new in the area. Maps are available at the museum and at the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Don’t crush the brush!
Is there a post office in Lone Pine?
Yes, the Lone Pine Post Office is located at the corner of E. Bush Street and N. Jackson.
Is there a local hospital?
Yes, the Southern Inyo Hospital is on E. Locust Street; The Southern Inyo Clinic is across the street. Check website for details.