Most people would agree that the Alabama Hills exhibit an extraordinary beauty with its unique rock formations, stunning skylines, and the backdrop of the majestic High Sierra mountain range. It is no wonder that the film industry has repeatedly chosen this area as a location for so many movies. However, hidden within the rocks, there is another, often overlooked, natural treasure, the Arches of the Alabama Hills.
|Arches of the Alabamas
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The rounded contours of the Alabamas contrast with the sharp ridges of the Sierra Nevada to the west. Though this might suggest that they formed from a different orogeny, the Alabamas are the same age as the nearby Sierras. The difference in wear can be accounted for by different patterns of erosion. Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous united States, towers several thousand feet above this low range. However, gravity surveys indicate that the Owens Valley is filled with about 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of sediment and that the Alabamas are the tip of a very steep escarpment.
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There are two main types of rock exposed at Alabama Hills. One is an orange, drab weathered metamorphosed volcanioc rock that is 150-200 million years old. The other type of rock exposed here is 82-85 million year old biotite monzogranite which weathers to potato-shaped large boulders, many of which stand on end due to spheroidal weathering acting on many nearly vertical joints in the rock.
The Dozens of natural arches are among the main attractions at the Alabama Hills. They can be accessed by short hikes from the Whitney Portal Road, the Movie Flat Road and the Horseshoe Meadows Road. Among the notable features of the area are: Mobius Arch, Lathe Arch, the Eye of Alabama and Whitney Portal Arch.