Sombering Manzanar and Breathtaking Alabama Hills

Sometimes it is good to be reminded just how ‘unhinged’ our society can get in times of great stress.  In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens to leave their homes  on the West coast and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center just north of Lone Pine, CA was one of ten camps where  were interned during World War II.  guard tower manzanar

It is free admission and has a very good visitor information center, a short documentary film, and an auto tour to see some of the still standing barracks.  We didn’t go into any the buildings but did find the displays in the visitor center interesting and certainly gave us plenty to discuss later.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills

I had read of the unusual rock formations in the Alabama Hills recreational area just West of Lone Pine, CA.  I’m a sucker for rocks and especially acres of unusual ones. This region was “discovered” in 1920 when Hollywood filmmakers began using the area to shoot films and since then over 400 movies have been filmed here.  Tremors, Star Wars, Django Unchained, and many many Westerns.

The hills have been subject to a type of erosion known as chemical weathering. When the hills were still covered with soil, percolating water rounded the granite blocks and sculpted the unworldy formations.  It is all BLM land and you can camp in some neat places next to these rocks.DSC02429 DSC02437

Morning view at Tuttle Creek Campground

Morning view at Tuttle Creek Campground

View of Sierras from Tuttle Creek

View of Sierras from Tuttle Creek

We spent the night in Tuttle Creek Campground – a BLM campground that is well maintained.  No services except a spot, picnic table and clean vault toilet.  A great value for $5 a night.  There is no shade in this campground so if you come – summer would not be the time.  It would be an easy spot to spend 2 -3 nights and do some hiking or bouldering around the area.


The rocks are great for climbing











We also visited the film museum in Lone Pine – it was well worth the $5 each admission.  A local collector of movie memorabilia had interesting items from older westerns, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans films, and some of the films that were produced in the Lone Pine/Alabama Hills region.  On display is the creature from Tremors – this actual prop has been used in all four movies and is on loan meaning if the studio makes a fifth movie, the prop will be used again.


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2 Responses to Sombering Manzanar and Breathtaking Alabama Hills

  1. The relocation camps are a blot on our history. Seems like its a good thing to be reminded that a good path can be littered with bad decisions.

    Love all the blm campsites you are finding. Great spots to hide away for a few days.

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