Yippee Ki Yay: Western Movie Festival

Giddy-up for the spectacular Alabama Hills and lovely Lone Pine.

TO DESCRIBE THE ALABAMA HILLS... to a friend who has never visited the Eastern Sierra destination is to reach for words like "knobby" and "unearthly" and "sci-fi" and "dreamlike." In a state lush with spectacular, in-the-wild wonders, the Sierra-close expanse of rock formations stands out like, well, a particularly photo-ready rock formation ("a sore thumb" seems pretty small compared to a colossal group of stones, hence that choice). But we've all likely seen the Alabama Hills at one time or another, if we've watched a vintage Western flick or a more contemporary film (think the beloved B-movie-esque "Tremors," for one). For the area around Lone Pine, from the Alabama Hills up into the low mountains, has long been a primo place for Hollywood filmmakers to set up their cameras and booms. This fact is celebrated each fall in lovely Lone Pine as Western movie mavens, and aficionados of all things film, gather for a few days of screenings, drive-abouts, and general fall-like enjoyment just off the amazing attraction-lined Highway 395.

OCT. 7 THROUGH 9, 2016... are the dates, and if you saddle up and clip-clop for the area you can join a talk on how pulp novels became silver-screen stories, or watch a rodeo, or hop on a bus and take part in a tribute to cowboy stuntmen. Karaoke, breakfasts, and other get-to-know-other-fans to-dos festoon the line-up like so many rock formations lining a high desert road (yes, that was totally an Alabama Hills reference). Love Westerns, and gorgeous natural sights, but can't make the festival? The Movie Road — that's its memorable moniker — through the Alabama Hills is open all year long for lookie-loo-ing, weather permitting.

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