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: https://www.bishopvisitor.com/activities/horseback/

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!

 

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

4 days ago

❤️Today, we wish you warmth and love wherever you are! ❤️
(Oh, and thoughts of fun and relaxation in the Eastern Sierra!!)
Great photo @sawna
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

❤️Today, we wish you warmth and love wherever you are! ❤️
(Oh, and thoughts of fun and relaxation in the Eastern Sierra!!)
Great photo @sawna 
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

There is no way its that warm yet in Bishop. I Live in Sonoma County and its too cold here for a sleeveless shirt or shorts.

Beautiful, so beautiful 😊😊❤❤

How gorgeous!

I love Bishop been going there ever since I was 10 years old now 61

Oh how I miss this Chris Schock

Minerets. Ice burg lake.

View more comments

5 days ago

Are we missing anything?? 😉 ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

...and just yesterday I came across a box of old Bishop Mule Day pins that had belonged to my Grandmother Ina Piper. Some from the early 50s. I Love Bishop.

Mahogany smoked meats for some jerky!! 🤤

That’s a big Amen! All of the above! Except someone would be out of their mind to jump into a lake.

Don't forget the Bakery !!!! We took home so much ,,,it was wonderful .

Laws Museum. Pull off on any side road in the Valley and walk. Look at the mountains. Breathe. Listen to the quiet.

Lunch & a Margarita @ LaCocina in Bishop !! & dont forget a stop @ Rossis in Big Pine on way up 395 or on your way home !! Stop you wont want to miss but check their days & hours open as they vary !! Mikes getting independent in his young age !! Did i say young ? meant well preserved !! Al the Sierras are a fun stop ENJOY your stay !!!

Visit the Bakery, hike to Blue Lake, and eat some delicious soup at the bowling alley before you play a bowl a game or two.

Get a chocolate dipped cone at the frosty chalet in big pine!

Awwwwww! Just replace the noun with any other small California city!

Visit Laws Railroad Museum & Historical Site! Bonus, on Wednesdays and Thursdays volunteers in the mining display put on a great show.

The entire trip was breath-taking and beautiful! We loved the snow, and I can't wait to experience the other seasons in this gorgeous place! My brother Adrian's spirit was guiding us throughout the entire trip! 💜💛➕

Mahogany’s meats!!! The jerky ! Omg soooo good!

On our way in June : Fish for the lunker in Concuct Camp out at Silver Lake Hike up Yost Creek Check out the Mighty Bristlecone😎👍

Maybe missing, while visiting the Eastern Sierra, please dispose of all your litter responsibly.

Have a beer in Rusty’s saloon and a burger at the barn.

Be a great human and pick up someone’s trash while fishing the Owens River

God willing We will be fishing in Rock creek this July

Visit my brother who works for the Forest Service. One of those great guys who tries to keep everything up and running for the masses 😍

In other words, kinda like I do several times every year.

My kids and I always cleaned up when we went fishing there. People have no respect and leave their trash without thinking about if.

Stay at Parchers Resort and fish at South Lake. 🌲🎣

Hike, of course!

Can you do all this stuff right now in February?

Stand along Owens River at sunset

That is one heck of a list!

View more comments

6 days ago

River therapy 😍
Video thanks to @wil.daniels
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

I could sit and fish right there ALL DAY!!

I Love 💕 to go back one of these days. It is Awesome there.

I just visited last weekend, and it was this beautiful! I want to go back hopefully soon! ➕💛💜

Life goals is to one day go fishing with you in my beloved Bishop, CA ! Stephen Bishop

Love being in bishop and in the eastern Sierras. Fishing and backcountry is pretty awesome. Jacks is good too.

Best time of year to fish for those beautiful wild browns. Blue wing Olive's can come off early afternoon and it is a blast. Love this river!!!

beautiful! I really like going there because its so beautiful!

Love the breeze blowing through he grass.

I need to get there . Hopefully sometime in April

Love this, I could sit here all day!

Cheryl Kimsey Killian that looks so Awesome and Relaxing. I would Love 💕 to be there.

I've spent a lot of time in Bishop.... On Horseback and skis.

Beautiful place

Beautiful picture 😊😊❤❤

So beautiful

I can stare at this all day!

Looks so peaceful!

Owens river... we are from Bishop ...

Gorgeous view

Gorgeous!!!

Nice fishing spot!

Miss this !!

Thanks for posting this

Beautiful

Is that the Owens River

View more comments

1 week ago

Fishing around here sure is magical ✨
Thanks for the shot, @miss.outside
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Fishing around here sure is magical ✨
Thanks for the shot, @miss.outside
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Hey, there I was, 40 yrs. ago! Well,almost like me, uh,I had a fishing pole and a dog😗🤣😂🤣🤣

Hey....I haven't seen this girl on the river? Must of been at the wrong place! Lol

Beautiful picture 😊😊❤❤

Jerry Machue can’t wait to get back up to Bishop! ♥️

Nice!

Love this picture! She has the magic wand.

The best girls fish!

Nice

Alexandra Coyote-Phoenix

View more comments

Load more