Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Can you keep a secret?  We can’t either; one of the best ways to get up close and personal with fall colors is from the back of a horse and that season is coming up fast. Hints of change are already starting to appear up high, and although the aspen peak won’t arrive until late September or October you can’t go wrong with the vivid blue skies of late summer coupled with the early yellow / golds of the willows and other shrubs. One of the most asked questions in the Bishop Visitors Center is when to plan a fall color trip and one of our biggest challenges is getting it just right.

Leaves begin to change color when they stop producing chlorophyll in preparation for winter. The process for doing this is triggered by shorter days, longer nights and cooler weather – so we know that it’ll be happening in autumn, but it is still up to Mother Nature to decide when day length and temperatures are just right – so we can’t predict it to the day or even the week.

Where to go:

Luckily, we have the California Fall Color website with weekly, daily, and regional updates. And if you look back into the archives, you can begin to see where the color hot spots are month by month. This can be a huge help when planning a fall color trip. We’ll call research the first step – when and where do you want to go?

The next step is finding the right pack outfit to get you there. Most of the big color canyons in the Sierra have a pack station right there; beginning way up north at Sonora Pass and continuing all the way down to Whitney Portal. We keep a list of nearby pack stations on our website; right here:

We always recommend calling the pack station you are interested in to find specific information on when and how long the rides are, where they go, what they cost, and what to bring. Listed below is some general information that will get you started in the right direction (listed north to south).

image of fall color on hillside

Convict Lake Resort Horseback Rides

Convict Canyon and Convict Lake are an iconic fall color must-see destination, and you can take it all in from the back of a horse! Rides go to the back of the lake and include time off the horse for lunch / snacks. Convict Lake is at 7850′, the mountains around it rise dramatically, and color starts in Convict Canyon in late September; usually peaking by mid-October. Be sure to call ahead for times and availability.

image of fall color and lake

Photo: @beautymajic on IG

McGee Creek Pack Station

image of two people riding horses

Photo: Vickie Taton

Rising up above Long Valley, you can spot the color along McGee Creek from U.S. 395; but you really haven’t seen anything until you drive up the road and either hike or ride into McGee Canyon. McGee Creek Pack Station offers rides from one hour to all day – we suggest at least half a day to really soak in the color and beauty of this canyon. Call for details: 760.935.4324

image of fall color in McGee Creek Canyon

Photo: Vickie Taton

Rock Creek Pack Station

Take a morning 2 hour ride around the lake, or an afternoon ride towards Mono Pass. Better yet, book a longer ride, see more and perhaps even get some fishing in! Rock Creek Pack Station also operates also operate as Cottonwood Pack Station and Virginia Lakes Pack Outfit; visit their websites to book a ride farther north or south!

image of fall color and mountains

Photo: @4ndy_girard on IG

Rainbow Pack Outfitters

Right in Bishop’s back yard is the spectacular Bishop Creek Canyon.  Rainbow Pack Outfitters is located in South Fork canyon behind Parchers Resort. Offering rides as short as 30 minutes and as long as all day – they’ll help with just the right option for you and your family. Make a day of it with dinner at Bishop Creek Lodge, breakfast at Parcher’s Resort, or catch pizza night at Cardinal Village Resort.

image of horseback riders riding down a trail in the fall

Photo: Allison Furman, Braveheart Trails

There are pack stations and fall color further north, and further south than we’ve listed here – check our listing for horseback riding and the Eastern Sierra Packers Association for a full listing and links, phone numbers, locations.

What to take:

Finally, a few tips for making your day horseback as comfortable as possible.

  • Dress in layers. Days can start out chilly, warm up quickly, then turn cool again with the afternoon breeze. Carry a lightweight wind shell (you can tie it around your waist when you don’t need it) and check the weather before setting out. Jeans are what wranglers wear, and you’ll appreciate the sun and scratch protection if you wear them as well.
  • Wear sturdy footwear – no flip flops on a horse! Smooth soles are the best, but hiking and running shoes will do double duty on and off the horse.
  • Bring sunscreen & lip balm and use it liberally. We’re close to the sun in the eastern Sierra and you’ll be riding in even higher elevations. Because it is cooler, it is easy to forget to reapply, but your skin will thank you.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat with a string that goes around your chin (known in the horse world as a stampede string) or, better yet, a helmet with a brim. At the very least, wear a ball cap.
  • Bring water and a snack. Most places provide you with small horn bags that you can put a few things into, or you can carry a small daypack. Check ahead with longer rides to find out if you’ll be lunching in the saddle or if you’ll have a break for eating.
  • Take a small camera. Leave the tripod and heavier equipment behind; try some ‘through the ears’ photos and enjoy the vantage point of being at least several feet taller! If you are using your cell phone as a camera, put it on airplane mode: since there probably won’t be any cell service anyway your battery will last a lot longer.
  • Love your horse or mule. These animals work hard all summer and appreciate a kind word, a soft pat, and (if permitted) a carrot or apple treat after the ride. Be an active rider; try not to slouch or tug on the reins if you aren’t turning or stopping. Listen to the wranglers and respect the animal carrying you many miles.
  • Tip your wrangler. They also work hard all season and appreciate your thoughts, thanks, and tips.
See you on the trails!


Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

6 days ago

Sunrise or sunset??? We sure love seeing our beautiful backyard in such incredible light.
Thank you, @verticalvibrations for capturing this shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen
... See MoreSee Less

Sunrise or sunset??? We sure love seeing our beautiful backyard in such incredible light. 
Thank you, @verticalvibrations for capturing this shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen

Comment on Facebook Sunrise or sunset???...

Wow beautiful picture. Love the High Sierras ❤❤❤

Gorgeous 😍 spent 4th of July weekend there and I have to say I am in love with Bishop. I can't wait to go back and explore more 😃

California From Palm Springs to Lee Vining and beyond, east of the Sierra Nevada, has perhaps the most stunning visual landscapes in the whole U.S. I am sorry I can never go back there. The people there ruined the experience for me. I was born there, and people from New York, Chicago, Boston, Florida, Arkansas, etc, were all telling me how it was going to be. Between them, the asskicking rednecks, and the thieving hippies, we had to go. Haven't been back except to visit and for funerals since. Going on 51 years.



Beautifil peaceful land.

Ye goode sunrise shot of Long Lake with Mount Goode?

Beautiful picture 😊😊❤❤




Beautiful 👍

I can’t wait to move there in about a year. 😎

Miss this our normally 3 trips has not happened,due to the virus.

just got home from there.😊

Perfect picture. <3

Cant wait til I'm home 😍😍

So beautiful 😍

I never got tired of the magnificent views

Just gorgeous!

Love it!




Rise! 🙂

View more comments

7 days ago

The view from near Bishop Pass... endless amounts of lakes, mountains, blue sky and smiles. Is this on your bucket list??
Thanks, @janarenee27 for sharing this photo!
... See MoreSee Less

The view from near Bishop Pass... endless amounts of lakes, mountains, blue sky and smiles. Is this on your bucket list??
Thanks, @janarenee27 for sharing this photo!

Comment on Facebook The view from near ...

Beautiful, always loved being in the Bishop area, and always stop in at Schats Bakery

One of my favorite backpack routes. From there like to go on to chocolate lakes. Miss those adventures.

We go every year in October when the fall colors are spectacular! 😎😎❤️❤️

What a jaw drop picture. Thank you for sharing this picture !

Ted Mowatt, I have to take you much more to see. We would need to be there for a entire month! Or we could just move there and take our time ;-)

Oh, I love the view. I've been there and loved the view then, too!!

Not this time of year A great place any other time of the year

Been there did North Lake to South Lake loop it was awesome.

What lakes are those actually a this part of ansel Adams wilderness area

Always stop at the Schats Bakery when in Bishop area.Beautiful country ❣️❣️

Great loop ... South Lake to North Lake via the John Muir trail.

What a gorgeous view!

My favorite place be soon there

Awesome picture.. Thank you for sharing!

I think I may need to go there!

The people & the bakery!

Beautiful countryside

Breath taking and wonderous.

Been there love it

Beautiful Picture

Can We travel there yet? I'm in Sonoma County


Beautiful Bishop🧡

How amazing!

I’d like to hike up here sometime. 😎

View more comments

1 week ago

Sending a little sunshine to all of our friends near and far.
We sure do appreciate all of the support and love you are sending our way. What an amazing community of caring individuals we have!! #KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Photo by @aanottingham
... See MoreSee Less

Sending a little sunshine to all of our friends near and far. 
We  sure do appreciate all of the support and love you are sending our way. What an amazing community of caring individuals we have!! #KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen 
Photo by @aanottingham

Comment on Facebook Sending a little ...

This picture ❤ makes me Happy Thank you

Hope all is going well in Bishop. We’ve been holding off visiting with these spikes in the virus. Hope this ends sooner than later. I hope your visitors are taking appropriate safety precautions to keep your community safe. 👍🏻👏🏻🙏🏻❤️🎣🐟😎🇺🇸

How lovely!

Can’t wait to get back!

It's so HOT here in Sonoma County

Marique Corsius en Merle Corsius...precies 52 weken geleden waren we op weg naar dit mooie dorpje...ons leven als camperaars begon 😍

View more comments

1 week ago

Do you love going into the backcountry? Here is a great video by Inyo Search and Rescue (SAR) reminding folks to please be smart about it.

From InyoSAR:
"With the start of what is sure to be a busy summer after months of Coronavirus lockdown, the STOP campaign was created to partner with visitors by supporting them to be prepared for their time in the mountains of Inyo County. The campaign's letters, STOP, stand for four key principles that, in the team's experience, will help people get back down the mountain safely.
The principles are:

S - Stay Together
T - Turn Around
O - Ownership
P - Prepare and Train

Although backcountry helicopter rescues capture headlines, in reality, helicopter rescues are extremely limited and risky. Inyo County Search and Rescue works with several excellent and capable helicopter agencies, but has no control of availability or other limiting factors such as high winds, heat, altitude, or

Most people don’t know that many who call for rescues or use their emergency beacons to call SOS
actually aren’t in a life-threatening situation. Rather, many of these callers are not prepared for their mountain objective and are looking for an easy way out of an unexpected, but non-emergency predicament."

Let's do our part to stay safe!!
... See MoreSee Less

Video image

Comment on Facebook The Inyo SAR team ...

Load more