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The Owens River Gorge is a deep, steep-sided canyon about 10 miles long located northwest of Bishop. It is a world-class destination for rock climbing and a favorite fishing area. The gorge offers fun and adventure all year long for climbers, anglers and hikers.

About 760,000 years ago the Long Valley Caldera near Crowley Lake formed when a massive volcanic eruption emptied the magma chamber below and released very hot ash that subsequently cooled and hardened into the rock we now call Bishop Tuff. Later the Owens River slowly cut the gorge where the river now runs clear and deep.

What Makes It Great

The exposed layers of tuff have perfectly incut handholds and the bolted sport climbing routes feature edges, pockets and cracks. Most of the climbing is near vertical and there are some steep lines like the Eldorado Roof. There are over 500 climbs ranging in difficulty from moderate, 5.8-5.9, to challenging, 5.12-5.13, with arguably the best routes, and there are many of them, in the 5.10-5.11 range.

The gorge is a magnificent riparian habitat. Bird species flourish and a native fish, the Owens Tui Chub, once threatened and endangered, is now protected in this predator-free habitat. The gorge is restricted to fly and lure fishing and it’s agreed that dry-fly fishing is generally more successful than nymphing. Wading can be tricky even though the water isn’t considered to be big. Wet wading can be done comfortably in summer, but waders are recommended for fall to avoid the stinging nettles.

Winter water in the Owens River Gorge

Who Is Going to Love It

Climb the gorge! Learn to climb with a guide or experienced climbers, improve your climbing, or just check it off on your must-do list. Once you’ve done it, this gorge will be the place you’ll want to return to over and over again.

Fishing here is equivalent to a high country expedition all in one day and without the extra gear for getting there and back. It feels remote, it’s quiet, it’s rugged and you’ll be back in town by sunset for a beer and boasting session.

Solitary anglers, groups of climbers, and families (with their furry friends) looking for a change of pace and scenery will all find that special something on a trip down the Owens River Gorge.

Winter climbing in the Gorge

Best Season

Climbing in the gorge is near perfect from late fall through winter and into spring. If you’re lizard-like and love the heat, summer is doable too. There’s always a sunny side and shady side to choose from.

Fish here year round. From spring to fall you’ll find the air warm and the water cool and definitely bracing after a big winter.

Directions. Parking. Regulations.

There are two good routes to access the most popular stretches of river and climbing walls. Both involve a short hike – one by road, which is closed to vehicle traffic, and the other a steep scramble down a rocky gully with roughly built steps that is maintained by the local climbing community.

Hike the road into the gorge

From Bishop drive north for about 12.5 miles along Highway 395 to the Gorge Rd intersection (at the bottom of the Sherwin Grade) and turn right onto Gorge Rd. Head east for .7 miles then turn left at the T-junction. Follow Gorge Rd up the grade for 3.3 miles, turn right and park in the clearing to the right of the road. A chained gate restricts vehicle access and this is where the hike in on the road begins.

Another 1.5 miles further along the Gorge Road will take you to the parking areas where you can then access the steep scramble down the gully. Be careful not to knock rocks off as a climbing wall is situated directly below the upper part of the trail.

There is a vault toilet located at the base of the approach trail. Please use this when needed! Please pack out everything you’ve brought with you and if you have a four-legged friend along please bag the doggy-do and pack it out.

At the top of the gully trail


Get Ready

Stop in to Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main for area maps, souvenirs and advice on lodging and dining locations.

Pop into Eastside Sports for great gear & advice. Consider climbing with a certified guide, call Sierra Mountain Center or Sierra Mountain Guides. Stop by Reagan’s Sporting Goods for fishing licenses, tackle & fishing reports.

As always in the Eastern Sierra dress in layers and be prepared for swift and sudden changes in the weather.

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15 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??

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)!

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)!

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 🙂🙂❤❤


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


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7 days ago

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


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.


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
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Thinking about venturing this direction? Good to know:

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Chiquito pero muy hermoso🌲🌲🌳🌳🌵🌄🌪🌫🌬


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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