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Have your kids outgrown camping your backyard? Bring them for a camping vacation in our big backyard. Here in the Eastern Sierra, Bishop has many wonderful options for camping that offer the gamut from full hookups to dispersed camping.

Camping is a great way to experience the natural world and a chance to learn new and valuable skills. It’s a fun way to connect with your kids and gives you a chance to unwind.

Planning

There are numerous websites and articles online with tips on planning, packing and being prepared for a camping holiday. If you and your kids are new to camping check out the good advice offered in this article at Recreation.gov.

Happy camper

Involve your kids in the initial planning and decide on your camping ‘style’. If you’re going for a serviced campground, call ahead or book online to reserve your campsite. If you’re looking for a more remote camping experience, make sure that the area you want to visit is approved for dispersed camping. Wilderness camping requires a permit so be sure to get that arranged before heading out.

There are numerous campgrounds and campsites in and around Bishop where you can find that special spot for you and your kids. Take a look at this list of “10 perfect places to camp” for great spring camping that we compiled.

Learning

Make this time with your kids one that is enjoyable and educational. Learning to set up a tent, cook a meal, and administer basic first-aid can be great fun. These can also be valuable skills for the future. Play a game where a budding actor in the group pretends to be the victim of a fall with an injury that needs to be dressed or splinted. Prepare a few scenarios at home with extra supplies in your first aid kit.

Dressed for hiking success

Although many camping areas near town have good cell phone signal, and Bishop offers free WiFi all along Main St., this could be a great time to disconnect from the digital world. Teach your children map reading skills and how to navigate using a compass. Set tasks for them to hike to a specified destination or find a ‘hidden treasure’ – something you could prepare in advance. Their smart phones could still be used to document their adventure, or give little ones inexpensive digital cameras to take snapshots.

Learn to dress for outdoor success. Here in this mountainous high desert region the weather can change quickly and dramatically. Dressing in layers that can be removed during the day as temperatures increase, and replaced as the day cools, will ensure that kids are comfortable throughout the day. It might even be a good time for kids to learn about caring for their clothes. For example, the wind could blow a jacket away if not safely stowed in a backpack or tent.

Flower Child

Give your kids flower power. Spring is a super time to learn about the high desert flower bloom. Learn to identify the flower species that blossom on the hillsides and along the streams. See who can spot the most number of different species by looking for color and size. Show little ones that flowers can be little too.

Teach your kids to identify cloud formations and the significance of different types of clouds and the wind patterns that create them. Clouds are an excellent indicator of changes in weather patterns. This is a good read about clouds for kids.

In this part of the world we get a particular cloud formation known as wave or lenticular cloud. Often during the late afternoon and evening when the winds aloft are strong and stable, the air is moist, and dew point is at the crest of the wave of air, a lens or saucer shaped cloud will form, sometimes with successive layers. If the clouds last until sunset, which they frequently do, the setting sun will tinge the cloud from light yellow to pink to a vibrant blood orange. Here it’s called Sierra Wave and it really is amazing.

On a clear night the lack of light pollution here presents another wonderful learning experience. The Milky Way has captured the human imagination since time began and on a night when the moon is new, this ribbon of bright stars is as obvious here as it was when Galileo first focused his rudimentary telescope at this phenomenon in 1610 to discover that it was made up of stars. In so many parts of the world where this spectacle can no longer be seen, there are countless children and adults too who have never set eyes on it. Come and see it for yourself and teach your children about its mysteries.

Roughing It

Tuckered out and tucked in.

Perhaps you’re not all ready for a primitive camping adventure, then consider just a few hours of ‘roughing it’ by taking a wilderness hike, or going fishing. There are many trailheads and streams in close proximity to Bishop that can be accessed by road that will get you into the mountains and well away from crowds. There are also great guide services that can prepare you, or take you, into the wilds for a fun and safe experience.

If all are willing and someone in the group has the necessary experience for primitive camping, there are excellent options near Bishop. Dispersed camping on US Forest Service land offers the opportunity to car camp with a sense of remoteness. With few or no neighbors, if you choose well, you and your kids (and the family’s furry best friend) can explore right from the door of your tent.

Hike-in camping in wilderness areas is the final frontier. You and your kids will definitely need adventurous attitudes and a high level of experience by the adult members of your group. Good planning is essential for this. Many wilderness areas may not be accessible in early spring due to snowpack, so a summer backcountry campout in the Eastern Sierra is a great vacation to plan for now. To keep energy up and kids moving forward, consider loading their favorite snack in their pockets.

Mixing it Up

Skateboarding in Bishop City Park

Even the most adventurous kids like to mix things up a bit. Bishop has so much to offer by way of lodging facilities, restaurants, and other fun activities – both outdoors and indoors.

If this is a first time camping for the kids, perhaps dinner at the pizza parlor, a movie, and a night in a hotel might be a great end to good camping beginning. Perhaps an evening at the bowling alley or an afternoon at the skateboard park would be sufficient reminder that city life, as they know, is still fun and familiar.

For the intrepid campers there are activities like hiking, rock hounding, flower spotting, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing to keep them occupied in the great outdoors. An excellent summer adventure is onboard a float tube on the Owens River. Bring your own gear or sign up for guided tours with one of the many adventure services here in town.

Help!

Primitive Camping in Buttermilk Country

The beauty of a camping vacation in the Eastern Sierra is that whether you’re camping in Buttermilk Country, Bishop Creek Canyon or at Brown’s Town you’re not much more than a 20-minute drive to all the amenities you might need for resupply or assistance in the event of an emergency.

Good planning for successful camping is essential and luckily there are numerous retailers and guide services, with knowledgeable and experienced staff, that will help you make the most of your camping vacation.

Be sure to know the rules and regulations for camping and outdoor activity in the Eastern Sierra and be prepared for sudden changes in weather – especially in spring.

Call ahead (760) 873-8405 or stop in at the Bishop Visitors Center at 690 N. Main St. for more information and maps. We really know and love our big backyard and want all our guests have safe and happy experiences. Visit once. Visit often.

About the Author: Gigi de Jong

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Gigi is “crazy mad in love with Bishop.” Since moving here in 2006 she has made it her mission to participate in as many of the outdoor activities as possible. She learned to snowboard, improved upon her very average climbing skills, took long hikes, has driven up and down innumerable mountain roads and 4×4 tracks, cycled and occasionally tumbled down mountain bike trails, taken to the roads on a bicycle or motorcycle – sometimes for fun and sometimes to commute, and completed her first attempt at a triathlon this year. She spent 10 months touring the western US and Canada on a bicycle and after 4,000 plus miles returned to Bishop – for the beauty of the place and the spirit of the community. “My soul belongs here,” she says.

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