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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!

 

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16 hours ago

Inyo County has moved from the purple to the red tier!! ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Love that sound

Is that a good thing??

Purple..red?

Is there still snow on the ground. So pretty

Doug, Brad....that sound 💙

Shh! Silence!😁

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2 days ago

Have you ever wondered "what flower is that" while you were here in the Eastern Sierra? Well, this article identifies 5 of the most common, so maybe you won't have to wonder again (at least about this little handful)!

californiahighsierra.com/trips/flowers-in-california-high-sierra/

Thanks, California High Sierra!
Photo by Betsy Forsyth, April 26, 2019
#visitbishop #mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly
... See MoreSee Less

Have you ever wondered what flower is that while you were here in the Eastern Sierra? Well, this article identifies 5 of the most common, so maybe you wont have to wonder again (at least about this little handful)! 

https://californiahighsierra.com/trips/flowers-in-california-high-sierra/

Thanks, California High Sierra! 
Photo by Betsy Forsyth, April 26, 2019
#visitbishop #mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly

Comment on Facebook

I knew paintbrush thanks to my mom and camping trips. Have never seen the iris!

So beautiful and amazing picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

<3

Robert Yanasak

Visit Bishop: Regarding the attached article: Mules are not bovines, they are equines!

Indian paint brush?

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3 days ago

Please #RecreateResponsibly !!! Locals and visitors alike, we will need to be EXTRA careful to do our part to prevent wildfires this year!! (most wildfires are caused by humans)Fire season already???!!
This fire occurred yesterday and was quickly out out by local fire fighters. Fortunately there were not the winds that we have today (it is currently howling).

Just a reminder to everyone out there that we already have VERY dry conditions due to a low snowpack from this past winter, so please please be EXTRA CAREFUL out there!!! Please take extra care with cigarette butts, campfires, and anything that could spark!!
#RecreateResponsibly #mindfultraveler #inyocounty #doyourpart

Photo by Betsy Forsyth
... See MoreSee Less

Please #RecreateResponsibly !!! Locals and visitors alike, we will need to be EXTRA careful to do our part to prevent wildfires this year!! (most wildfires are caused by humans)

Comment on Facebook

That’s good that the fire was put out quickly!

A FIRE, Already!!?? I wonder how many drivers are "Rubber necking" in town now? Like they've NEVER seen a fire before!!! If you're driving , DRIVE! If you want to look at the fire; pull over and park your car and gawk all you want!

Fire rings only.

broken glass which acts like a magnifying glass. just send the jobless out cleaning up

Beautiful

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7 days ago

Thinking about venturing this direction? Good to know:Wondering what is open? Here is the latest update:

WHITE MOUNTAIN RANGER DISTRICT

Roads open: McGee Creek Rd., Rock Creek Rd. to the Snow Park, Hwy 168 to Aspendell, South Lake Rd to Bishop Creek Lodge., White Mountain Rd., snow, travel at own risk, Silver Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance expect snow), Wyman Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance, snow), Glacier Rd.(Big Pine Canyon) to Glacier Lodge.

Road closed: Rock Creek Rd. at the Snow Park, Hwy 168 from Aspendell to Sabrina Lake, North Lake Rd., South Lake Road after Bishop Creek Lodge.

Campgrounds open: Bitterbrush (winter ops), Grandview (winter ops), Pleasant Valley (County), PV Pit (BLM), Baker Creek (County), Goodale (BLM), Taboose Creek (County), Tinnemaha Creek (County).

Campgrounds closed: Convict Lake, Holiday, Aspen Group, Palisade Group, McGee Creek, Tuff, Rock Creek, Iris Meadow, Big Meadow, East Fork, French Camp, Rock Creek Group, Mosquito Flat Backpacker, Pine Grove, Upper Pine Grove, Horton (BLM),Table Mountain Group, Forks, Intake 2, Four Jeffrey, Sabrina, Bishop Park, Big Trees, Bishop Park Group, Willow, Mountain Glen, North Lake, Cedar Flat Group, Clyde, Sage Flat, Upper Sage Flat, Big Pine Creek, Glacier Group, Palisade Glacier Group.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is closed for the season.

The White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center is closed, but visitor questions are being answered via phone, 760-873-2500, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am -4:30 pm, closed federal holidays.


MT WHITNEY RANGER DISTRICT

Roads closed: Onion Valley, Whitney Portal Rd., Horseshoe Meadow.

Roads open: Foothill Road, Division Creek.

Campgrounds open: Independence Creek (county), Lower Grays Meadow (winter ops), Portuguese Joe (county), Lone Pine (winter ops), Tuttle Creek (BLM), Diaz Lake (County).

Campgrounds closed: Upper Grays Meadow, Onion Valley, Whitney Portal, Whitney Portal Group, Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground, Cottonwood Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Horseshoe Meadows Equestrian, Kennedy Meadows.

The Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association is operating their bookstore at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine, Thursday through Monday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visitor questions are being answered via phone, 760-876-6200, Monday- Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, closed federal holidays.

Photo by Greg Connor
#mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly #inyocounty
... See MoreSee Less

Thinking about venturing this direction? Good to know:

Comment on Facebook

Chiquito pero muy hermoso🌲🌲🌳🌳🌵🌄🌪🌫🌬

Awesome!

Greatly appreciate this update!

This is such a beautiful area!

I would love to move there because it is so beautiful but lacking in basic needs.

Beautiful time of year to go up the Eastern Sierra

Beautiful picture!

So beautiful and amazing picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

Please take your trash out with you.

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