Oddly enough, there aren't any cheap hotels in Lone Pine. In fact, the whole place is pretty darn pricey. The reason? Death Valley, baby. Now who's goin' to DV in the summer? Mad dogs & Englishmen? Pretty close - Euro tourists.
My brother, who like BG lives in the SV, spends most of his time in the Sierra up in the Yosemite area. Last year, he joined me on one of my typical (fishing) trips out of Horseshoe. After we got back around 4pm, we drove down to LP to take a shower (Whitney portal hostel) and grab some eats (Mt Whitney, 'natch - ok food, better beer).
As we're cruising around, I asked him if he noticed anything unusual. Other than the other scruffy hikers, there was a veritable sea of young families with kids, along with older couples & groups, all dressed in weird shorts & socks/sandles. Not only that, but they were suspiciously clean and all speaking in tongues.
I, of course, knew what was going on, but he had no clue. After I told him, he still couldn't believe anyone would want to go to DV that badly. I assured him they were all tourists and not only were they going to DV (or had just returned), but would be mildly disappointed if it wasn't over 120F.
In response to the OP, I always try & have my car at the exit TH. I'd rather deal with logistics in the front-end rather than @ the end. Someone else suggested LAX - that's how I would do it. Drive up to LP, park the car, then deal with getting to the start of the JMT in the Valley.