Visiting The Lone Pine Film Festival
and the historic Owens Valley
Pine is a little town half way up the Owens
Valley, next to the southern Sierra Nevada
peaks, and immediately to the east of Mount Whitney. The
Owens Valley is where Los Angeles gets much
of its water, by channeling the Owens River
through the Los Angeles Aquaduct. It's often
used as a driving route to Death Valley, and
by Angelenos traveling to the ski hill at
long before most of us discovered it, the
desert region around Lone Pine was used by
Hollowood movie companies to film many of the
early westerns. Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott,
and Clark Gable were almost permanent
residents of the valley during those days.
Roy Rogers and Gene Autry filmed their
singing cowboy films in the area,
particularly around the jumbled rock formations of the Alabama Hills,
just west of town. This was the place
where Bogart starred in High Sierra, and Cary
Grant starred in Gunga Din. Most of the
Hopalong Cassidy films were made here.
Lone Pine Film Festival
what could be more of a natural place to
celebrate those great old movies than the
place they were shot. The annual film
festival is a celebration of the western
films of the '20s and '30s, when Roy Rogers
always got the girl (Dale), and Terry Moore
appeared in the "King of the Khyber Rifles."
Movies are shown, of
course, but there are other events, including
concerts, panel discussions
by the visiting western movie stars and tours of the Alabama Hills movie
locations conducted by the festival's
director, Dave Holland. Past festivals have included a
sunrise photo tour, a talk with film on
stunts by Loren Janes (Steve McQueen's stunt
double for more than 20 years), and a tour of
movie town sites (scattered around the
hills). Daily passes give you access to all movies and panels for the specific day. Tours cost extra as do the festival's social events.
For information and festival tickets, Go Here.
The Owens Valley
valley set beside the rock walls of the Southern Sierra is worth visiting for its own
sake. It has a fascinating history, including
the sorry story of the creation of the
Several other small towns are
located along the valley highway (Hwy 395) including
Independence, Big Pine, and Bishop at the
north end. The White Mountains with their
ancient bristlecone pines sit just east of
Bishop. The Winnedumah Country Inn,
long ago the place where many of the western
movie stars stayed while filming, is now a
fine B&B, in Independence, the county seat. Big Pine has
its retreating glacier, and the drive from Lone Pine, up Mount Whitney
to the Portal Park, is an absolute delight.
The hardy may want to climb the rest of the
way to the peak.
is the largest town in the Owens Valley: the
annual scene of a fine rodeo, and just about
the finest bakery we have stumbled into. It's
something of a misnomer to call Erik Schatt's
Bakkery just a bakery, for it's also an
eating place with a few tables and a
selection of sandwiches and salads, and
includes a store where you can get
accompaniments to the wonderful baked goods.
Each morning starts about 20 varieties of
bread and rolls put on the shelves, and the
daily stampede begins. The bakery began with
Schatt producing what they now call their
"original" sheepherder's bread, a wonderfully
soft, fluffy bread with a crunchy crust. Its
popularity led to further types, including
several sourdough varieties, a half-dozen
types of rolls, plus a cheese and jalapeno
round loaf that feels like it weighs a ton, it's
so loaded with cheese, and is a meal in
itself (for four).
bakery is not to be missed, and you can't
miss it if you're driving along Highway 395,
through Bishop. It's where the large crowd
is, all day long.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
just south of the Owens Valley, north of the
town of Mojave, this park is unique for its
site—where the Mojave Desert meets the
Sierra Nevada. Plant and animal species from
both areas live here, in an area which
features tilted and sculptured rock walls and
multi-colored canyons, plus old lava flows.
The shaping of the land here began about
20,000 million years ago, when the area was
covered by a sea. Volcanic eruptions
deposited lava and ash, and then the Sierra
mountains began to rise (about seven million
years ago). Several ice ages came and went,
filling lakes and eroding the
get there by driving along State Highway
14. A park information office is located
on Abbot Road. A campground is also located
along this road. With 50 campsites and water,
the campground is an excellent place for an
overnight stay before driving north through
the Owens Valley, or to Death Valley.
visitors stay in the park for two or three
days. During the orime season (winter and
spring), park rangers conduct an
interpretation program. Trails lead through
the canyons of the park, providing views of
steep colored cliffs and dry waterfalls.
Desert plants in the park include great
horned owls, lizards, and plenty of jack
rabbits. Plant types include Joshua trees,
and scores of tiny wildflower varieties
appearing in the "rainy" season, before
summer sets in.
For more on the Owens Valley, see our Great
Drives -- Hwy.