Lone Pine, California

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Highway 395, 209 miles north of Los Angeles and 15.8 miles south of Independence

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Restaurants and Eateries: Bonanza Mexican Restaurant; High Sierra Café, Merry-Go-Round; Mt. Whitney Rest; Pizza Factory; Season’s Restaurant; Totem Cafe

Public Internet Use Facilities:

Museums and Point of Interest: InterAgency Visitor Center; Manzanar Internment Camp

Events and Festivities:  March 1: Early Opener Trout Derby (Chamber); April 26: Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage (A delegation of Japanese-Americans and others return to Mananar to pay tribute to the internees and Japanese-American Veterans who fought in WW II.  Organized by Mansanar National Historic Site.) May 3: Wild West Marathon (Chamber); October: Lone Pine Film Festival (Chamber); November 15: General Trout Season Closes

Summer Recreation: Biking, Birding, Camping, Fishing, Golfing, Hang Gliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountaineering, Photography, Rock Climbing.

Sporting Goods Stores: Gardner’s True Value (706) 876-4208; Lone Pine Sporting Goods (760) 876-5365

Nearby Fishing: Home: Lone Pine: Lone Pine Fishing   Fishing Tips

Nearby Camping: Home: Lone Pine: Lone Pine Camping

Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Links: www.lonepinechamber.org; InterAgency Visitor Center at the junction of Highway 395 and Highway 136, (760) 876-4444.  Open 8 am to 4:50 pm.  Closed Tuesday and Wednesday in the off season.

Community Parks:


Tours and Side-Trips:  Alabama Hills; Cerro Gordo; Diaz Lake; Horseshoe Meadows; Manzanar Concentration Camp


RV Related:

Recreational Contacts: Mt. Whitney Golf Club (760) 876-5795; Lone Pine Pheasant Club

Government Contacts:

            Inyo National Forest: books, maps and wilderness passes and permits: Mt. Whitney Ranger Station (760) 873-2500; White Mountain Ranger Station (760) 873-2500; Mammoth Ranger Station (760) 924-5500  www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo

            Department of Fish and Game: (www.dfg.ca.gov/fishing) Season dates, licenses, restrictions, fish stocking

To provide a correction or offer a suggestion, email David Archer.

Lone Pine Expansion Notes in Alphabetical Order

Alabama Hills:


If you are a rock climber, a kid who loves climbing up boulders or a western movie fan, be sure to visit the Alabama Hills Recreation Area, a few miles west of Lone Pine.  Into this arid, enchanting rock forest, film directors have been directing scenes of fabulous rock formations since the 1920’s.  Offering majestic vistas of Mount Whitney and the Sierra escarpment, Alabama Hills is especially beautiful during the spring when wildflowers dot the sandstone and granite landscape.  Each year Lone Pine celebrates its movie connection with the Lone Pine Film Festival, which for 2008 will be held October 10-12.  If you plan on visiting Alabama Hills, be sure to visit the Film Festival web site for their movie road tour.



Diaz Lake:  Three miles south of Lone Pine.

Lake size: 22 acres    Species: Planted Rainbows early in the season; Largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and Channel catfish

Closest town or supplies: Lone Pine

Contacts: Inyo County Parks Department; Mt. Whitney Ranger District (760) 876-6200; Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce: toll-free at (877) 253-8981 or locally at (760) 876-4444; Lone Pine Sporting Goods (760) 876-5365; Gardner’s True Value (706) 876-4208

Facilities: Boat launch; rest rooms, picnic site, swimming area and playground

Nearest campground: Diaz Lake, Lone Pine Creek, Boulder Creek RV (760) 876-4243

Boating: Personal watercraft allowed

Fishing season: Early opener-see regulations       Best times: Spring and late fall

Favorite lures or bait: Conventional gear for bass; lures and bait for trout

Stocking information: 12,000 trout per season

Additional information: If you are a bass fisherman and a trout fisherman, this is a great spot for a spring outing. Lone Pine also hosts an Early Opener Derby.  If you enjoy bass fishing, ask locally for directions to “High Banks” on the Owens River, as well as Billy Lake.

Directions: Three miles south of Lone Pine on Highway 395.


Cerro Gordo Mines: The Cerro Gordo Mines, discovered in 1867 when Los Angeles was a sleepy cattle town of less than three thousand people, transformed Los Angeles and all the communities along the way with its rich strike of silver.  Estimates of 13 to 15 million dollars worth of silver bullion were freighted to Los Angeles and then shipped to San Francisco for refinement.  Today the mining district is preserved as an authentic ghost town.  Although the trip is easier today than over a hundred years ago, it is a notably rough road and not recommended for low clearance vehicles or large RV’s.  The road climbs 5,000 feet in elevation, is narrow in places, and the last 2.5 miles offer switch backs with no room to turn around.

“Of the three roads into camp, the most commonly used access to Cerro Gordo is via the infamous Yellow Grade (aka Cerro Gordo) Road. Originally constructed as a toll-road in 1868, by bullion king Mortimer Belshaw, the road began earning a "romantic" reputation from its onset. Legend has it that the earliest teamsters would consume their whiskey at the bottom, near Swansea and later Keeler, before urging their teams up the grade. The roads steepness and weather extremes fostered creativity back then. Today, the Yellow Grade is within the maintained mileage system of Inyo County. Experienced county road crews groom away defects on an as-needed basis. While traveling in any of the canyons of the high desert, all visitors should pay close attention to weather events that may create dangerous flash-flood conditions.

            The climb from Highway 136, at Keeler, to Cerro Gordo is roughly 5000 feet. The distance is 7.5 miles. The road surface is of native sand, gravel and bedrock. While the use of a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended, nearly any two-wheel-drive car or truck with moderately adequate ground clearance, good brakes and a sound drive train, should suffice. Travelers should plan to take between 25 to 30 minutes, after leaving the highway, to arrive. Carrying a good spare tire is imperative and a can of "stop-leak" or other tire emergency aid won't hurt. Knowing how to change a flat tire is also a good practice. As with many desert destinations in and around the Death Valley region, care should be taken to not overheat the vehicle's cooling system, and for those of you with automatic transmissions, you might find an extra can of transmission fluid handy.” (www.cerrogordo.us/roadway.html)

Golfing:  Mt. Whitney Golf Course, 2559 S Main, Lone Pine, CA 93545
(760) 876-5795

Hang Gliding:
For an interesting article on hang gliding, along with national long-distance hang gliding records, visit the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce web site, or for a look into the world of hang gliders, visit Horseshoe Meadow launch site at Walt's Point for a scary description of hang gliding high above the Sierra Mountains.

Horseshoe Meadows: Horseshoe Meadows, gateway to the Golden Trout Wilderness and the John Muir Wilderness, provides a great picnic get-away for travelers wanting to escape the heat of the valley floor and enjoy a high elevation meadow, along with the sparkling waters of Cottonwood Creek.  Travelers to the area in the late spring will be rewarded with panoply of wildflowers, especially Shooting Stars and Lupine.  Unlike so many trailheads, the Golden Trout Wilderness trailhead offers wonderful day hikes for the entire family.

 Climbing from an elevation of 6,000 feet to nearly 10,000 feet, the paved road to Horseshoe Meadows is noted as one of the highest gains in elevation, as well as one of the most splendid panoramic views of the Owens Valley.  Plan on using low gears in the accent, as well as in descending the mountain.  Along the way look for the Point of Historical Interest marker for one of the film settings in the 1939 movie, Gunga Din.  Approximately 18 miles from Lone Pine is the launching point at Walt' Point for hang gliders, and at 19 miles is the ruins of Cottonwood Sawmill, which supplied the Cerro Gordo mines with kiln wood.  The logs were cut from the nearby canyon and set careering down a nine-mile flume, where they were freighted to a steam ship and steamed across Owens Lake.  The logs were then transferred to freighters who hauled the logs up the treacherous mountainside to Cerro Gordo mines. Drections: From Highway 395 in Lone Pine, turn west on Whitney Portal Road and drive 3.5 miles and turn left on Horseshoe Meadows Road.  Drive 22 miles to the trailhead.


Lone Pine:
Brothers Bart McGee and Alney first settled the area in 1861 and aptly named the location Lone Pine after a lone Jeffrey Pine tree at the base of Lone Pine Canyon.  Within a few years, the discovery of silver and the opening of the Cerro Gordo mines expanded commerce both in Los Angeles and Lone Pine.  Farmers, ranchers, miners and merchants created a hub of commerce and activity in this desert oasis. By the 1880’s the mining district went bust after shipping millions of silver, lead and zinc to the city of Los Angeles.  The mining industry, in turn, created a steady corridor of freight wagons and supply centers to Los Angeles.  With a growing business climate and ever increasing population, the Los Angeles city planners knew they needed more water and the Owens River would be the conduit of life.  In 1904 Los Angeles began using the water supply of Owens River and set out to buy water rights from Lone Pine to Lee Vining, which is often referred to as the Water Wars

 By the 1920’s the aqueduct was under construction and agriculture faced a steady decline.  What was once a great productive area for hay, fruits and vegetables became a producer of water for southern California.  During this period of agricultural decline, Hollywood discovered the wonderful landscapes surrounding Lone Pine in the Alabama Hills.  To date over 250 films have utilized the fantastic rock formations in the area.  Western film stars from Tom Mix, Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and the Duke all filmed here in the Alabama Hills.  (See Lone Pine Film Festival).  Today Lone Pine is still a hub, and recreation and the outdoors draw visitors from around the country.

Owens Lake: When the city of Los Angels diverted water from Owens Lake to an aqueduct in 1913, it could not anticipate the ecological calamities and financial responsibilities it would face ninety-five years later.  With just a little more than a decade of shutting off the Owens River, this once broad desert lake of nearly 100 square miles dried up to become an alkali menace to nearby residents, who themselves have benefited from cheap water drained from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  During the 1870’s, steam barges plied the lake carrying ore from the Cerro Gordo Mines.  Waiting for them on the other side, were long-lined freighters pulled by thirty to forty mules.  On any given day fifty or more freighters would line up waiting for the precious cargo to be hauled to Los Angeles.  Today nearby residents face some of the worst coarse-particle air pollution in the United States from alkali dust storms. Litigation continues on the Water War dispute and the management of the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project.

Mt. Whitney: Hey, all you anglers out there!  When was the last time you heard about three fishermen scaling a 14,495 foot un-named mountain in one day when others had failed?  Three local fishermen, John Lucas, Charles Begole and Albert Johnson, from the Lone Pine area worked their way up to what is now the peak of Mount Whitney and left a note in a tin can to prove their feat.  Clarence King, a member of the California State Geological Survey had erroneously climbed a companion peak of Mt. Whitney and publicized his achievement in many professional journals.  He named the mountain for his director.  When government officials set off to substantiate his climb in the history books, they were dismayed to find that Mr. King had inadvertently climbed Mt. Langley, which lies southeast of Mt. Whitney.  Although the three fishing amigos named their mountain, Fishermen’s Peak, the government bureaucracy had its way and Mt. Whitney remained in perpetuity honoring a government director rather than honoring piscatorial mountain climbers.

Companion Web Sites:

Glacier to Yellowstone (A complete guide to camping and fishing in Montana from Glacier to Yellowstone)

Fishing Tips 101 (Offering a "Mastering the Basics" series for freshwater fishing)

Bass and Trout Fishing Digest (Dave's hodge-podge of fishing adventures in Northern California and Oregon)


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Archer published on January 26, 2008 6:22 PM.

South Lake / Bishop Canyon was the previous entry in this blog.

Independence, California is the next entry in this blog.

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