This 30,000-acre area received its name from a Confederate warship responsible for wreaking havoc on northern shipping during the Civil War. Prospectors sympathetic to the Confederate cause named their mining claims after the C.S.S. Alabama, and eventually the name stuck to these unique hills. The rounded, weathered contours of the Alabamas form a sharp contrast with the crisply-sculpted ridges of the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. Unlike the Sierra peaks, the Alabama Hills’ granite rock has been etched by wind and water, creating rounded and soft-looking boulders and leaving desert varnish—a mottled black coating of iron and manganese compounds—on many of the rocks. The scenic rock formations have been the setting for many commercials and movies, including “The Shadow” and “How the West Was Won.” These geologic features also lure rock climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers, and several streams in the area attract anglers.
Photo by Jesse Pluim, BLM.