Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Photo: @hatchetthejeep

It may seem obvious to drive, run, walk, hike or ride in the Eastern Sierra. But do you know how much land there is to cover and how many ways there are to do it?

Here’s an overview of the region to give you a sense of how much adventure awaits you in and around Bishop.

WHERE

The Eastern Sierra

Broadly speaking it is a region of eastern California that covers a vast area on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is a sparsely populated, high desert region that spreads across two counties, incorporates only a handful of towns, and has lots and lots of open and accessible terrain. The topography and geography of the region encompasses the deep Owens Valley, the tall and rugged Sierra Nevada to the west, the gentle giants of the White and Inyo mountains to the east, and the magnificent Mono Basin on the northern plateau. US Highway 395 is the main thoroughfare that takes travelers through this beautiful region that stretches from Lone Pine in the south to Bridgeport in the north.

Bishop is located pretty much right in the middle of the Eastern Sierra at the northern end of the Owens Valley in Inyo County.

Inyo County and The Owens Valley

Inyo County has a total land area of about 10,200 square miles and a population of just over 18,500 persons (according to Census 2010). All, but about 1,000 Inyo County residents, live in the Owens Valley, which covers an area of about 3,330 square miles. Even so it remains one of the least populated regions in the country with a population density of 5.25 persons per square mile. Ranked by population density it falls between lowest ranked state, Alaska, with just 1.3 people per square mile, and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming that has an average of 6 people per square mile. All that means … there’s a lot of space to explore in the Owens Valley.

The Owens Valley is considered one of the deepest valleys in the United States. It’s about 100 miles long by 6 to 18 miles wide. The Owens River is a verdant, riparian area that weaves its way along the valley floor, which sits at about 4,000 feet above sea level (ASL). The open fields of the valley and foothills are covered in wildflowers every spring and the canyons higher up are bathed in fall colors every autumn. The mountains rise suddenly and dramatically on both sides with peaks reaching over 14,000 feet ASL.

Sierra Nevada

This mountain range is long (400 miles north to south), wide (70 miles east to west), tall (numerous peaks above 10,000 feet and some over 14,000 feet) and immensely rugged. It boasts the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level. Climbing this mountain is an adventure that people come from all over the world to accomplish. And two of the world’s greatest hiking trails, the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails, are easily accessed from the Eastern Sierra. The range is wild and craggy, and conditions can be harsh at times. It requires experience and planning to venture into the heart of the wilderness. But the foothills and outer edges of the range provide opportunities for all kinds of exploration.

View of the Sierra Nevada from the White Mountains

White and Inyo Mountains

These gentle giants to our east cover about 130 miles together from north to south. The narrow tip of the Whites rises to just over 13,000 feet at Boundary Peak like the prow of a ship sailing north. A little south of that and just northeast of Bishop is White Mountain Peak. At 14,252 feet, it is the highest peak in Mono County, the third highest peak in California after Mt. Whitney and Mt. Williamson, and the 14th most topographically prominent peak in the contiguous United States.

Further south the range expands to about 20 miles wide where it meets its counterpart, the Inyo Mountains. These two ranges form part of one giant fault block separated by a narrow gap through which State Route 168 runs, just east of the community of Big Pine. From this road it’s an easy drive to visit the planet’s oldest living things, the Ancient Bristlecone Pines, which live at 10,000 feet near White Mountain Peak.

The highest peak in the Inyos is Waucoba Mountain at 11,128 feet above sea level. From there the range narrows and descends to the high desert floor that sits at 4,800 feet. It is at this point that travelers have access, along State Route 190, to the lowest point in the contiguous United States, Badwater Basin (at 282 feet below sea level) in Death Valley.

We have a lot of significant stuff here.

This is the eastside. The other side of California. The wild side of California.

WHAT

Whatever moves you – and we mean that literally – there’s a place for it here.

On Four Wheels

There are excellent roads, with light traffic and magnificent views, for a family road trip. Take an afternoon drive up Bishop Creek Canyon and visit the sparkling blue lakes and alpine forests. There are wonderful campgrounds, streams for fishing, lakes for swimming, boating, and paddling, cafés and resorts for fine food and drink, and trailhead access to explore more on foot. Go for a drive up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest and learn about the history of these trees and what they’re teaching us about the history of our planet. The Sierra View Overlook on White Mountain Road is an awesome vista over the valley and across to the Sierra Nevada.

A longer trip loops around the tablelands or up past Mono Lake. From Bishop head north to Benton on US Highway 6. Then take SR 120 west and cut across the Benton Crossing road to Crowley Lake, or stay on 120 to loop past Mono Lake. Head back to Bishop south on US 395. There are all kinds of great sights to see along the way.

Got a 4 wheel drive off-highway vehicle? Bring it!

A legal system of roads and trails for motorized vehicles was designated here in 2009 following many years of inventory and analysis. Now an extensive network of 2,200 miles of off highway vehicle (OHV) trails and roads provides access through almost one million acres of the Inyo National Forest. In less than 30 minutes’ drive from Bishop there are many excellent routes that will take you up into the mountains where the air is cool and the scenery spectacular. The rugged terrain is a superb test for driver and vehicle.

Get the low down on the high up Coyote Flat 4×4 track for a really rugged OHV adventure. Or take it up to Papoose Flat for a little rock crawling and a look at a landscape that looks like a moonscape. Both these routes will take you to overlooks where you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Owens Valley below – one from the west and one from the east.

On Two Wheels

Of these legal OHV routes most are double-track, native surface roads, but at the base of the White Mountains, 5 miles east of the center of Bishop, is an exceptional off-road motorcycling and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) area. Whereas most of the larger network requires that drivers keep their vehicles on designated roads, the Poleta Open Area, is approved for cross-country and open motorized vehicle travel. In addition to this system, many of these routes link to adjacent routes managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Eastside is a fantastic area for a motorcycle road trip. There are long stretches of quiet roads with sweeping vistas for easy cruising, and many twisting, turning mountain roads for a nimble sport bike, tourer, dual sport or cruiser. The road surface on these routes is excellent and the curves will keep your mind focused and your adrenalin flowing.

Is a bicycle your favorite two-wheeler? We have roads and trails for you!

Mountain Biking on Lower Rock Creek trail in Fall.

Road cycling on the Eastside is second to none. We think so. You can ride easy or train hard for hundreds of miles along roads that carry a very low volume of traffic. Practice your hill climbing or downhill cornering, go flat out sprinting or find your rhythm for the long haul. We have roads on lower, level ground where it’s warm in winter or up at altitude where it’s cool and green in summer. There really is no end to the roads you can ride. Join our local cycle club, Eastside Velo Cycling Club, and participate in some of the best road bike rides around.

And we have mountains. So we have mountain biking. Some of the best trails in the country. You can spend as little as a couple of hours or as long as … well, a lifetime … and experience mountain biking that is fun and family-friendly, and challenging and thrilling. There’s always somewhere to ride a bike down a sweeping, technical trail or out across a high desert landscape, where there’s always one thing that will surely take your breath away – the view!

On Foot

Hike, run, walk, ski, snowboard or snowshoe. Not all at the same time of course, but pick your season and move yourself through these mountains, over meadows, across streams, and down canyons on foot. In fact, you can move yourself over boulders and up cliff faces with hands and fingers too. Bouldering and rock climbing is world class and the options are almost limitless.

Hiking in the Sierra Nevada. Summer. Wildflowers. Dogs. Love!

Many trails are multi-use but the higher up you go the more suited they are for foot travel. Once you’re into the wilderness, where vehicular travel is prohibited, you’ll be in wild, wonderful territory where you will be moved – even when you’re standing still.

Lots of great trailheads are easily accessible by car. Within a 20-minute drive from Bishop you can be standing at a trailhead garbed and geared for a run, hike, walk, boulder circuit or snow tour.

On Horseback

Roads, tracks and trails, even in the wilderness, are open to horseback riding. There’s muleback too. Load your horse trailer or book a mule pack trip and experience the Eastern Sierra the way it was – way back when. It’s all still here just like it was then. You just need to get in the saddle and let the beast of burden carry your body forward and thoughts back to history.

One of the loveliest areas for an equestrian campout is up in the High Sierra at the aptly named Horseshoe Meadow Equestrian Campground. This is where you can bring your own equines, beat the heat of summer, and experience a high-altitude camp-and-ride experience that is unequalled.

WHEN

This land is a land of changes. The landscape goes from low to high and from arid to alpine. The temperatures fluctuate with the time of day and the changing of the seasons. Water flows relentlessly down the mountains and the floral carpet and leafy canopy change colors as the seasons change. Sometimes the wind blows and always the snow falls in winter.

Choose your mode, choose your season and choose your region. Summertime it’s best to go high and wintertime is best down low. Timing in spring and fall is somewhat unpredictable, but no matter when you visit or what you want to do … somewhere nearby, there’s a road or track or trail or route that’s doable.

HOW

We encourage everyone, and especially folks with disabilities, to come and see what you can do in the Eastern Sierra. Here’s a blog from earlier this year that has tons of great information on wheelchair accessible places in our area.

Please treat our big backyard as nicely as you’d treat yours. Pack out everything you pack in and, if you can, take an extra trash bag with you and pick up and pack out any littler left behind by others. Please stay on designated trails and don’t park on top of bushes. Remember this fun phrase and teach it to your kids, “Don’t crush the brush.”

Come in, call, or email us at the Bishop Visitor Center and ask about the experiences and adventures you can have in our big backyard. We really do have a vast and most exquisite backyard. There is so much land where you can play and explore and it’s best to visit often and try it all.

Read about Bishop by Air and Bishop by the Water too.

Looking down from near the top of Bishop Pass trail.

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

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

View more comments

5 days ago

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

#LoveBishop #historicbishop
... See MoreSee Less

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

View more comments

7 days ago

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

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau
... See MoreSee Less

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

View more comments

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!
... See MoreSee Less

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!

🙏🏻

View more comments

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

View more comments

Load more