Winding through the Hollywood hills north of Los Angeles is a broad, smoothly-paved highway lined with palm trees and large houses with sweeping views of the Los Angeles skyline. Its residents have names like Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon, Justin Timberlake, and Sylvester Stallone. For most of its history, the street has been known as a mecca of celebrities and tourists, and a major scenic thoroughfare. Its name: Mulholland Drive.

Mulholland Drive acquired a new reputation in 2001, when David Lynch released his critically-acclaimed psychological thriller, Mulholland Drive. The film, starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring, is a complex, non-linear exploration of love, sexuality, and the shallowness of Hollywood culture. Although its unorthodox structure prevented it from gaining popular success, the movie has a major cult following, and is popular among critics, who see it as a sophisticated exploration of the self-perpetuating illusions of actors and filmmakers in Tinseltown.

View from Mulholland

View from Mulholland.
JDB Creativity

Mulholland Drive today continues to be a popular destination for tourists seeking glimpse of their favorite celebrities. But no trip to this quiet, affluent suburb would be complete without a viewing of David Lynch’s mysterious, inscrutable masterpiece.

Most of Mulholland Drive is a paved, residential roadway winding into the hills with numerous scenic overlooks (notably the Groves Overlook at the edge of San Vicente Mountain Park). However, it extends far into the hills and ultimately turns into a narrow dirt road. By following this trail, it’s possible to reach an abandoned military outpost called LA96C (17500 Mulholland Drive). LA96C was built in the 1950s as an anti-aircraft defense station. The site was a command center for a nearby battery of Nike surface-to-air missiles, and was manned 24 hours a day throughout the 1950s and 60s, when Americans feared an imminent Russian attack on their cities. It has been decommissioned and abandoned for decades, but still stands as a memorial to the military paranoia of the Cold War era.

Riding Mulholland at dusk

Driving the drive at dusk.
The Magic Camera

At its furthest point, Mulholland Drive turns back into a paved road and eventually becomes one of the main streets through Woodland Hills, California, a relatively small but affluent suburb of about 63,000 people. In all, the roadway meanders several dozen miles from North Hollywood and ultimately merges into the Ventura Freeway.