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You’re getting the itch to go camping in the Eastern Sierra, but unless you’re the hardy winter camping sort it’s a little too early to head up into the high country. Perhaps you bought some new gear recently or you need to dust off the old stuff and get things prepped for the summer. Then spring in Bishop is a wonderful time to get back into the camping groove.

Pack up your RV, toss your tent in your car, or just swing your backpack over your shoulders and head to Bishop. There are numerous campgrounds and campsites in, around and near Bishop that offer the gamut from full hookups to boondocking.

What’s more … where full service is offered the sites are spacious and within walking distance of public lands where fishing, hiking, cycling and more can be enjoyed by the whole family. Primitive campsites offer contemplative solitude and some are little more than a 20 minute drive from town. Just about any style of camping you could want is right here in the heart of the Eastern Sierra.

Commercial Campgrounds

Brown’s Town 

This is a fun resort-style campground located one mile south of Bishop on Highway 395. Stroll the old west replica Main Street displaying antiques from old Bishop. The campsites are large and grassy and the views are just spectacular.

The country store and café serves hot and cold sandwiches, old-fashioned ice cream, homemade pies, fine candies, souvenirs, camping supplies and fishing tackle. Of course where there’s fishing tackle there’s fishing. The Owens River is just a couple of miles to the east and a short drive north will get you to Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Just a short walk next door gets you to Bishop Country Club where you can enjoy 18 holes of golf or a meal on the restaurant patio.

Millpond Campground 

Six miles north of Bishop on Sawmill Road is the Millpond Campground. Situated in the Millpond County Park camping here still provides all the amenities, but gets you just that much further out there.

Hiking and mountain biking trails run right by the campground and will take you out across the sagebrush or up into the Tungsten Hills. In spring the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada shine brightly on a moonlit night and the gentle burble of a nearby creek fills the quiet night with a liquid melody.

There are tennis courts, a ball field, a playground and fishing pond. This is the perfect place for a family to unwind and let loose.

Benton Hot Springs 

This isn’t everything you would want when camping. It’s the only thing … your very own private natural spring-fed hot tub! Ok, perhaps you want your tent and a campfire and good bottle of something while you soak away all your stresses.

This beautiful and tranquil campground is located in the historic town of Benton, one of the oldest existing towns in Mono County, just 38 miles north of Bishop on Highway 6.

Explore the old mining town, go for a hike or mountain bike ride in the surrounding hills, or ride a road bike on these roads that you’ll have almost all to yourself. It’s simply sublime.

Benton Hot Springs campsite

Benton Hot Springs campsite

Developed Campgrounds

Pleasant Valley

About a dozen campgrounds are run under the auspices of Inyo County of which one is this gorgeous gem just 6 miles northwest of Bishop. On a quiet stretch of road along the Owens River adjacent to Pleasant Valley Reservoir this campground provides vault toilets, tables, grills and fire rings. It’s open year round on a first-come-first-served basis and the automated pay stations accept credit cards.

Naturally fishing is prime here and there are any number of tracks and trails to hike or bike. World-class bouldering is just a few miles east along Chalk Bluff road where the numerous canyons and washes cut down from the Sherwin Plateau.

An extensive network of over 2,200 miles of OHV trails and roads leading through almost one million acres of the Inyo National Forest can be accessed from here. Excellent maps have been produced by the California Trail Users Coalition and are available free of charge at many of the trailheads and, of course, the Bishop Visitor Center.

Horton Creek

With the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop by day and an impressive canopy of stars and the shining Milky Way by night this campground really gives the feeling of being way out there.

The nearby Tungsten Hills are great place for hiking and exploration. It’s a favorite place for rock hounding and crystals of red garnet can still be found here.

Birdsong heralds the start of spring as large populations of breeding songbirds nest along the willow-lined stream. Spring brings the desert peach into bloom with its pink blossoms and jasmine-like scent and the bitterbrush presents its yellow color and spicy perfume giving soft color and sweet fragrance to this arid landscape. Herds of mule deer, which have wintered in the foothills to feed on the tender shoots of the bitterbrush and sagebrush, may wander nearby as they make their way back up to the higher elevations.

Horton Creek campground is open from May 1 to October 30 on a first-come-first-served basis. Amenities include vault toilets, campfire rings, tables, and lantern holders and a campground host is onsite to help with any needs or questions.

Big Trees 

Spring is always unpredictable in the Eastern Sierra and the higher you go the more you may be subjected to rapidly changing conditions. At the end of April when the Big Trees Campground opens there may still be some snow on the ground and it could still be a little chilly overnight.

Named for the very large Jeffery pines that grow here this campground gets you up into the alpine zone and into bear habitat. Managed by the USFS this campground provides clean drinking water, a flush toilet and a vault toilet, and bear proof storage lockers.

Situated along the banks of Bishop Creek – wilderness is just a few miles away. Spring could deliver the opportunity for cross country skiing, snowshoeing or a good strenuous hike for the intrepid adventurer. It might, however, just bring a soft rain shower and gentle breeze for a lazy weekend and reprieve from the heat of the valley.

Bishop rock climbing

Buttermilk Country

Dispersed Camping

Buttermilk Country

Under the auspices of the US Forest Service much of this land, between highway 168 and Horton Creek, is allocated for ‘dispersed recreation’ year round. Although interspersed with private and non-public utility lands, the Buttermilks basin is a huge tract allowing for a great variety of recreational activities with camping allowed on the public lands.

Numerous dirt tracks and single-track trails connect for miles of exciting mountain biking and dirt biking in and around the Tungsten Hills. Massive boulders provide some of the most accessible and diverse bouldering in the country with routes that offer everything from fun scrambling to highly technical ‘problems’ that challenge even the world’s best climbers.

Summer days are hot and winter nights are cold. Spring and fall are unsurpassed. Mountain peaks tower above the desert floor and a canopy of bright stars sparkles in the night sky like a never-ending display of brilliant fireworks.

Follow Highway 186 West from Bishop for 8 miles and turn right onto Buttermilk road. Venture into a land that will let you stretch your eyes, restore your soul, and ease your mind of the pressures of everyday life.

Pine Creek Canyon

If seclusion is what you’re looking for Pine Creek canyon is where you’ll find it. Primitive campsites are hidden from view under large willows and tall conifers alongside the creek. Spring can be chilly in this deep canyon, but as the season turns to summer there is respite from the desert heat here.

This is a gateway to the John Muir Wilderness where access to high country trails is at the head of the canyon. Permits are required for overnight trips into the wilderness, but here in the canyon dispersed camping is quiet and private.

Pine Creek

Pine Creek

Benton Crags

Known by climbers as Benton Crags this area covers a large tract of National Forest where county roads and forest trails lead to numerous dispersed campsites. An area on either side of Benton Crossing road – Banner Ridge to the east and Wildrose Canyon to the west – is a wonderful mix of sub-alpine terrain with stunning rock formations, natural springs and seasonal creeks.

Spring is very changeable up at this higher elevation and temperatures can change suddenly as weather patterns move swiftly across this mountainous terrain. Depending on the specific campsite chosen you may have views of both the Sierra Nevada to the west and White Mountains to the east and the surrounding rugged hills.

From here you can venture out on foot, by bicycle – road and mountain, dirt bike, or in a 4×4 vehicle. Rock scrambling for uninitiated climbers will thrill and trad climbing can challenge the more experienced.

It feels like a world away, but it’s only a few minutes drive to the little town of Benton for basic resupply or about 35 minutes to Mammoth Lakes and 55 minutes to Bishop.

Papoose Flat

High up in the Inyo Mountains, about a 1-½ hour drive south from Bishop (requiring a high clearance 4×4 vehicle for the final ascent), is a landscape that looks otherworldly. Tall rock pinnacles stand as sentries on an expansive mountain flat bordered by high ridges and lofty peaks.

Campsites are dotted along the ridge overlooking the Owens Valley and higher up among the junipers on rocky outcrops looking out over the flat. Looking west the soaring Sierra Nevada appears equal to this range from this lofty perch.

Storms build and roll in quickly and it’s advisable to keep an eye out for clouds building in the early part of the day. Long clear, cool days are frequent and filled with the quiet sounds of the whispering wind and birdcalls. Sunrise and sunset are dazzling times of day as colors range from blue to yellow to pinks, oranges, and reds.

Bring plenty of water and pack your hiking shoes, mountain bike, binoculars and camera.

Know When and Where to go Camping

Before you venture out onto public lands be aware of the rules and regulations. Follow this link for more information about dispersed camping in the Inyo National Forest.

The US Forest Service provides an interactive online map that is excellent for road and trail identification with details describing: route designation, length, surface type, status, jurisdiction, and accessibility. It is a wonderful resource for planning a camping, hiking, cycling, or off-road driving trip.

You may also want to download two scalable jpg maps here that cover much of the Eastern Sierra from Coso Junction to Conway Summit.

Stop in at the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main Street for maps and information.

 

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2 days ago

This is Bishop from the Tungsten Hills looking east. Our little town is almost like an island. We have to travel hours to do most major shopping, or for any major medical issues. For most of us, it is absolutely worth it because we love the Eastern Sierra and although our town is small, our “backyard” is big and full of majestic natural beauty. We know many of you who live far away love this place as well. ❤️

So as you are making holiday plans this year, please remember to protect the people and places you love to play in. We appreciate it!!

Photo by Betsy Forsyth Johnson
#keepbishopsafe
... See MoreSee Less

This is Bishop from the Tungsten Hills looking east. Our little town is almost like an island. We have to travel hours to do most major shopping, or for any major medical issues. For most of us, it is absolutely worth it because we love the Eastern Sierra and although our town is small, our “backyard” is big and full of majestic natural beauty. We know many of you who live far away love this place as well. ❤️

So as you are making holiday plans this year, please remember to protect the people and places you love to play in. We appreciate it!! 

Photo by Betsy Forsyth Johnson
#keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

We were campground hosts at Mammoth & went to Bishop for nice dinners on our days off, get haircuts, do laundry & see dentist. Enjoyed Bishop Mule Days too.. Besutiful area to spend the summer... Had to edit & add Schat's Bakery 💞💞

My first trip to Bishop was 57 years ago and have been back more years than not. I plan to keep coming back until my legs can’t walk the trails anymore. It’s truly a special place.

Wish I could be there. Great place to do star watching. Seem to be extra stars in the sky over there. Wishing you all the best for the holidays. Wish that bakery could deliver. So yummy. Stay well. <3

Loved growing up in Bishop, many fond memories there! I bet the town has changed since 75, but never the scenery!

One of my favorite places to camp don't how many times I've been there but I've been a bunch of times love it over 30times

I love it too! Grew up in Big Pine, worked in Bishop and Big Pine! 😊

best town I ever lived in

A place and time far far away! A place named Bishop, where I was born.

Take care! Hope to see you again next year!

Lived in early 50’s I lived in a mine camp Sheelite till the mud slide, moved to Rovanna To a mine housing . Parents bought a house in Tungsten City, up behind Rocking K Ranch, attended school in Round Valley Lots of memory In the area

Maybe you need to stop Blaming people that travel to the Eastern Sierra for your local problems. Its not really that small of a town and With the tax you get from tourism build a real medical facility and hospital!

My Dad grew up in Bishop, he actually worked at the Tungsten mines for awhile before heading to El Paso to go to college. Then the war started and he joined the Army Air Corps . I spent many a summers staying with my grandma Duffy, playing with my cousins in that magical place. Still my favorite place on earth.

Best place to grow up ‼️

Bishop is always one of our stopping points if we're visiting Yosemite and Death Valley. Bishop Creek Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon, Schats Bakery, Jacks, Spellbinder Books, Whiskey Creek- all previous haunts. Once normal travel arrangements return, we'll be back to visit one of our favourite places in the USA.

I know this viewpoint........magic.

I really miss Bishop and the Owens valley.....

Lived at Hilltop Estates/ Swall Meadows for quite a few years in the late 70’s to the early 80’s. Only place in California that keeps me coming back every couple years.

We would love to move there! Love the area.

Thank you for the words and picture you are blessed to live there xo

Our favorite place to go. Always come to the car show.

Home🇺🇸

To bad its in commiefornia. Love bishop

I remember Lone Pine too. Loved it

Small Town, Big Back Yard. 🥰

One of my favorite places on earth

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5 days ago

Flashback to Main Street, 1886. Who would like to escape to this scene?

#LoveBishop #historicbishop
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Flashback to Main Street, 1886. Who would like to escape to this scene?

#LoveBishop #historicbishop

Comment on Facebook

I will take 1986. Had a cool uncle living there. Free lodging, and his Land Cruiser was available for deep snow drives.

Heck no...especially after I saw the video on "the old western hygiene". Talk about funk and stink! Whew, even the women stunk! Man-o-man....plus add on disease, diet and doctoring! Nope...lol 😆

I wonder if they still had to pose to get the exposure by 1886. Probably not.

Hmmm...1886 in Owens Valley? Was there a Sheriff? Or just a bunch of gun toting fools on horseback.

might be a sale but I will think it is a Halter class in the middle of the street and that will make me happy

Love that picture

I would love it. 🙏❤️🙏

I see Rusty’s!! Lol

It would be hard an cold but very free it would be something to go back in time

Every horse looks so healthy (extra shiny coat).... all that great pasture of the area > Owens Valley!

No thank you. I love Bishop, but I can't imagine living there without AC or a swamp cooler. lol

Even tho these days were hard ,they were free to enjoy great days.

Life was harder back then but better in My opinion.

Looks like a stock sale. If it were today, I would call it a horse show.

A busy place!

Early "Mule Days"?

I would buy that Appaloosa .

I would escape in a second :)

great pic

Right on

Can we visit but not stay?

Me

Great picture

Me toooooooo

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7 days ago

Ahhhh, we sure love sunsets in the Eastern Sierra!! 😍

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau
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Ahhhh, we sure love sunsets in the Eastern Sierra!! 😍

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau

Comment on Facebook

An amazing picture of a beautiful sky. Thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

The dinosaurs are still around when you see the sky like that

Hermoso,Bishop calf.

Awesome

Felicidades yerandi que tela pases muy vien

The ponds. Nice

I'm ready to FISH

Wow

Fantastic!

That's the sky color of snow on the way!! Lovely😍😘🐈😷

That is amazing beautiful blue sky I like winn you took that picture of the amazing beautiful blue sky

Amazing picture to put up on a wall

Gorgeous photo!

Wonderful!

So beautiful!

Beautiful

Beautiful

Beautiful!!

Beautiful

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1 week ago

Just an FYI. Seems fire season is still not over.
MONO COUNTY —U.S. Highway 395 in Mono County Due remains closed from Emigrant Street in Bridgeport to the Nevada State Line due to a wildfire in Walker Canyon. The fire has reached 20,800 plus acres and claimed 80 structures. It is unclear how long this section of the highway will be closed.

Drivers heading northbound on U.S. Hwy 395 should detour to either U.S. Hwy 6 just north of Bishop to NV360 to US 95 or State Route 182 in Bridgeport to Nevada 338. Southbound traffic from Nevada should detour to U.S. Hwy 95 to NV360 to U.S. Hwy 6 or Nevada 208 to Nevada 338 to State Route 182.
roads.dot.ca.gov/

This photo is from 9/11/2020 near Bishop... if you weren't here, the smoke was HORRIBLE!
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Just an FYI. Seems fire season is still not over. 
MONO COUNTY —U.S. Highway 395 in Mono County Due remains closed from Emigrant Street in Bridgeport to the Nevada State Line due to a wildfire in Walker Canyon. The fire has reached 20,800 plus acres and claimed 80 structures. It is unclear how long this section of the highway will be closed.

Drivers heading northbound on U.S. Hwy 395 should detour to either U.S. Hwy 6 just north of Bishop to NV360 to US 95 or State Route 182 in Bridgeport to Nevada 338. Southbound traffic from Nevada should detour to U.S. Hwy 95 to NV360 to U.S. Hwy 6 or Nevada 208 to Nevada 338 to State Route 182.
https://roads.dot.ca.gov/

This photo is from 9/11/2020 near Bishop... if you werent here, the smoke was HORRIBLE!

Comment on Facebook

Hoping for an end to this nightmare. Time for some real rain and snow. Be safe. <3

Blah blah anything from keeping people away ! Come on people clear road a little hazy try and drive back east ! Quit whining!

We used to always camp with my parents at Bridgeport or Topaz lake years ago.

Tanner Ernst

Oh no!

These fires are never ending! Be safe.

Y'all stay safe!

Wow!

🙏🏻

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1 week ago

How many of you love to take pictures when you visit Bishop and the surrounding areas? With large amounts of open space, stunning scenery and ample wildlife, it might be the perfect place to work on your composition and skills.

Make sure to ready this blog article about photography here in the Eastern Sierra:
www.bishopvisitor.com/4-fabulous-photography-features/

With COVID-19 on the rise, we ask you to please protect the places and communities where we play. Stay SAFE outside.
#loveBishop #keepbishopsafe

Photo by @leviaguilera_photography
... See MoreSee Less

How many of you love to take pictures when you visit Bishop and the surrounding areas? With large amounts of open space, stunning scenery and ample wildlife, it might be the perfect place to work on your composition and skills.

Make sure to ready this blog article about photography here in the Eastern Sierra: 
https://www.bishopvisitor.com/4-fabulous-photography-features/

With COVID-19 on the rise, we ask you to please protect the places and communities where we play. Stay SAFE outside. 
#loveBishop #keepbishopsafe 

Photo by @leviaguilera_photography

Comment on Facebook

Your Bishop is on my list of places I want to visit when all of this is over.

Love the contrast....... nice photo of wild nature!

Mule (deer) Capital of the World!😄

Where is this?great picture

Nice!

Awesome

Beautiful deer

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