A female hiker scrambles up the mountaineer’s route of Mount Whitney, California on October 3, 2009. Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the continental United States and stands 14,494 feet tall. Mt Whitney

Kyle Sparks/Getty

West of Lone Pine, the jagged incisors of the Sierra surge skyward in all their raw and fierce glory. Cradled by scores of smaller pinnacles, Mt Whitney is a bit hard to pick out from Hwy 395, so, for the best views, take a drive along Whitney Portal Rd through the Alabama Hills.

As you get a fix on this majestic megalith, remember that the country’s lowest point is only 80 miles (as the crow flies) east of here: Badwater in Death Valley. Climbing to Mt Whitney’s summit is among the most popular hikes in the entire country.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lone Pine attractions

1. Alabama Hills

10.11 MILES

The setting for countless ride-‘em-out movies, the popular Lone Ranger TV series and, more recently, parts of Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008) and Quentin…

2. Museum of Western Film History

13.13 MILES

More than 400 movies, not to mention numerous commercials (mostly for rugged SUVs and Jeeps), have been shot in the area. This fascinating museum contains…

3. Manzanar National Historic Site

13.36 MILES

A stark wooden guard tower alerts drivers to one of US history's darkest chapters, which unfolded on a barren, windy sweep of land some 5 miles south of…

4. Eastern California Museum

16.39 MILES

This museum contains one of the most complete collections of Paiute and Shoshone baskets in the country, as well as artifacts from the Manzanar National…

5. Mary Austin's House

16.43 MILES

Fans of Mary Austin (1868–1934), renowned author of The Land of Little Rain and vocal foe of the desertification of the Owens Valley, can follow signs…

6. Mist Falls

21.6 MILES

One of the most popular destinations for a day hike from the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon, Mist Falls is an Edenic spot, with massive boulders,…

7. Muir Rock

21.87 MILES

On excursions to Kings Canyon, John Muir would allegedly give talks on this large, flat river boulder, a short walk from the Road's End parking lot and…

8. Roads End


Six miles east of Cedar Grove Village is the end of the road for cars. A seasonal ranger station issues wilderness permits, sells maps and hiking guides,…