BEYOND THE BOULEVARD: If you had to pick the thoroughfare with the most movie connections, in your mind, what road would you land upon? Hollywood Boulevard? Maybe Sunset Boulevard? Or Mulholland or Melrose or one of the studio-dotted streets of Tinseltown? They're all good and true entries, but another movie road exists in California, and it has so much hallowed history that it is called The Movie Road, capital M and capital R. If you've seen "Gunga Din" or "Tremors" or a host of Western or wide-open-range-y films made over the last 90 or so years, give or take, you've seen this epic alien landscape, a gorgeous slice of wilderness that looks like a cross between a beautiful mountain painting and a faraway planet. There's nothing quite like the Alabama Hills, in appearance, which is why the location, which is a few hours up Highway 395 from Los Angeles, became such a draw for scouts looking for a cinematic place that would deliver a hefty amount of wow and wild beauty.
AND... while the movie sets have been dismantled, and there are no more cowboy hats nor lassos to be found in the vicinity, the hills have not changed, perceptibly, whatsoever, making a Movie Road road trip something of a drive back into the past of Western-themed filmmaking. Best of all? The drives are self-guided, and open all year, depending on weather.
WHAT YOU'LL SPY: Spots where films like 1963's "Showdown" took place, and the "Rawhide" grave site. Look also for a rocky outcropping that was very much part of the look of "The Gay Caballero" of 1940. The Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce has a link to the helpful, get-out-and-discover pdf, which includes maps to several cinema-famous sites. Take care that every road may not be made for every vehicle, and the usual precautions when heading into bumpier territory. Want to turn your pony towards the Roy Rogers Movie Flats, Lone Ranger Canyon, and the plaque that pays tribute to the silver-screen legacy of the Alabama Hills? Clip-clop this way, cowpokes.