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Bishop, California, is nearby relief from hot temperatures

Summer travel is in full swing in the warm Southwest, so we need to turn our thoughts to higher elevations in search of agreeably lower temperatures. A great destination for that purpose is the Owens Valley town of Bishop, California, at a cool 4,200 feet, roughly twice the elevation of Las Vegas. It’s not only a super place to spend a few days at the foot of the Eastern Sierra, it can serve as a wonderful base camp for visiting Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining, Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park.

There is plenty to do in and around Bishop. Visitors from all over the world hike, climb and mountain-bike, do some world-class fishing, or start a multi-day guided pack trip by horse or mule into the High Sierra. Exploring the multitude of scenic back roads is a treat in itself. Schat’s Bakery, opened in 1938, is the place to start any morning in Bishop. It is best known for its “Original Sheepherder’s Bread” first served to the Basque sheepherders who grazed their flocks in the surrounding area. This bread is sort of a sourdough type in hand-shaped loafs.

One of the most scenic roads in the Eastern Sierra, Bishop Creek Road, starts in Bishop. It heads west out of town about 19 miles, first through high desert sage and ranchland, at around 4,200 feet, and climbing up to a mountainous landscape of pine trees, aspen groves and alpine lakes at nearly 10,000 feet.

Be sure to take a right on the well-maintained gravel road that leads to the Buttermilks. These are granite rock formations and are very famous, not only for their beauty but for their bouldering opportunities. Bouldering involves focusing on a single boulder or small area where rock climbers solve the “problems” of how to best climb some short route. No ropes are used, just lots of powdered chalk to keep the hands dry for gripping. All smart people involved in this sport bring along a cushiony “crash pad” to land on if they fall.

Returning to Bishop Creek Road and heading into the high country, you will find first-class trails for day hiking or backpacking into the high country. Up here are many alpine lakes for that famous fishing, and some of California’s finest mountain views.

But if fishing is your fancy, you don’t even need to venture into the high country, for there are rivers, lakes and creeks in Owens Valley itself. Fly fishing is most popular in this region, although some fishermen use lures or bait. Best bets here are rainbow and wild brown trout, but there are also bass, carp, perch and bluegill.

A fantastic area to fish is in the valley along Chalk Bluff Road, which runs between the lower Owens River and the obvious volcanic cliffs to the north. On this road the river serpentines about 4.4 miles. It’s a catch-and-release area, which means you must use barbless hooks and artificial lures. Laws change regularly, so before wetting your line, inquire at one of the fish-and-tackle stores in Bishop, when you get your fishing license and get updated information.

Though a small town, Bishop offers services including lodging, food, gasoline and a hospital. For more information, including a calendar of events, contact the Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, 690 N. Main St.; 760-873-8405; or www.bishopvisitor.com. Reservations are always advisable in such an appealing location and are a must during special events such as the California High School Rodeo finals in mid-June.

Deborah Wall’s book “Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest” ($24.95, Imbrifex) is available on Amazon. She can be reached at .

Directions to Bishop and Buttermilks

To Bishop: From Las Vegas, take U.S. Highway 95 north for about 115 miles to Beatty. Turn right and continue north on U.S. 95 for 52 miles. Turn left onto NV-266 and drive 45 miles. Turn left and continue on CA-168 for 38 miles. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 395 north and follow for about 15 miles to Bishop.

To Buttermilks: From Bishop, starting at U.S. Highway 395 and CA-168 (Main and Line streets), go west for 7.3 miles and go right onto Buttermilk Road. Follow this well-graded gravel road for a few miles to the heart of the Buttermilks.

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1 day ago

Enjoy this bird's eye view of Mt. Whitney!

Visit California
Just an average weekend soaring through the skies of Inyo County and getting a front-row seat view of Mount Whitney, California's tallest mountain. 😉 http://bit.ly/2E0A7dl
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Comment on Facebook

That looks so cool! Thanks for sharing.

It's one way to get to or over the summit. Would still like to do it the old fashioned way. Will be sharing. Thanks. :-)

Bamos

Letsgo

Ann Craig

Marcela Sedano-Jensen

Bree McNamara...you hiked that monster!! It's beautiful :)

Joe Shermer can see you doing this

Roger Klein lookie here.

I wouldn’t even fly a small plane into that area. Death wish.

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3 days ago

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!The wildflower bloom moves both northward and higher in elevation as Spring progresses. During the past week flowers were spotted as high as 5,000 feet in the eastern Sierra footslopes. Several wilderness areas west of Ridgecrest offer great wildflower viewing opportunities. Several canyons offer access points for hiking and flower viewing as visitors climb the footslopes. Thank you to all public lands visitors practicing #LeaveNoTrace principles while you #TracktheBloom! ... See MoreSee Less

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!

4 days ago

Great news - and if you haven’t been to Bishop during the High School Rodeo Finals - you are missing out! Come watch the finest California high school horsemen and women compete in June! We’ll post the dates and more very soon.If you haven’t heard yet, the CHSRA State Finals will be held at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds through 2022! 🤠 ... See MoreSee Less

Great news - and if you haven’t been to Bishop during the High School Rodeo Finals - you are missing out! Come watch the finest California high school horsemen and women compete in June! We’ll post the dates and more very soon.

 

Comment on Facebook

Cool

All the best to those who still believe in that really old school horse power.

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