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Why: Legions of film, television and commercial actors, directors and crew have spent quality time among the boulders outside Lone Pine, making this part of the Owens Valley the face of the American West in many ways. John Wayne made a dozen movies here. John Ford and William Wyler worked here. Parts of the first "Lone Ranger" film (1938) were shot here, as were parts of the the "Lone Ranger" television series (1949-1957).
What: This is actually a two-stop adventure. First, step into the Museum of Western Film History in the Owens Valley town of Lone Pine. There you'll learn the evolution of western stories on large and small screens and see Tom Mix's black hat, the dentist's wagon from "Django Unchained" (2012) and one of Roy Rogers' old guitars and too many cool old posters to count. You'll also learn how some 400 movies and countless TV episodes and commercials have been shot in the nearby hills. The first film shot here may have been "The Roundup" (1920).
Your second stop is the Alabama Hills, which begin about 2 miles west of the museum. Using a map from the museum, you can drive Movie Road and walk to Lone Ranger Canyon, scanning the strangely familiar landscape and reviewing the list of titles filmed here -- not only westerns, but also parts of the "Iron Man," "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" franchises. There's also a Lone Pine Film Festival every year around Columbus Day.
Where: Museum of Western Film History, 701 S. Main Street, Lone Pine, 215 miles north of downtown L.A..
How much: $5 per adult, free for children under 12, military and members.