Arches are a popular landscape feature in the Alabama Hills. We did not get to photograph all of them (good reason to go back). The most photographed arch is Mobius, in part because it is so accessible with a good hiking trail and an excellent view of the Sierras, including Mt. Whitney. From the road you can spot the Eye of Alabama. Frankly, I took it to be a hole in the rock rather than an arch. Just steps away from Mobius is the Lathe Arch. Two arches that are more difficult to find as there is no trail or signage are Cyclops Arch and Boot Arch. Away from the usual route through the hills and along Tuttle Creek you can see what is called Sparkplug Arch.
The Alabama Hills got their name in honor of a southern battleship in the Civil War. The hills are located just west of Lone Pine, a small community that is gateway to both Whitney Portal and Death Valley. Since the 1920s, hundreds of movies, especially westerns and sci-fi thrillers, have been filmed in the region. While this range of hills appears very unique compared to the Sierras to the west of it, the hills are actually part of the same geologic formation. There are two main types of rock seen in Alabama Hills. One is an orange, drab weathered metamorphosed volcanic rock rock that is 150-200 million years old. The other type of rock exposed here is 82- to 85-million-year-old biotite monzogranite which weathers to potato-shaped large boulders, many of which stand on end due to weathering patterns acting on many nearly vertical joints in the rock.
If you like rock formations that you can view with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background, this is the place for you. We made a number of trips to photograph the hills and found that the lighting, the clouds and the interesting terrain assured us of a different view around every corner. I am posting photographs of the arches of Alabama Hills separately.
My blog post of our first visit to Zabriskie Point mentioned 'flat light'. I was disappointed in not getting the bright golden light needed to get the best demonstration of the fascinating rocks that make this site such an iconic point of interest in Death Valley. Tom and I decided to give it another try. We used The Photographers' Ephemeris to pick a morning where the light was forecast to be more interesting. In addition to a different light, I wanted to try out my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens that had just been returned to me by Tamron. The lens would not focus properly right out of the box! So you will see some really nice close up photographs not usually posted for Zabriskie. Our choice meant we had a long three hour drive to get there before sunrise and catch whatever Mother Nature would give us. We hope you enjoy the effort!