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Late summer day road ride in Round Valley. Photo: Michael McDermott

Are you a cyclist?

Do you have family and friends who love cycling? You probably arrived at this blog because you are and you do. Welcome!

We believe there is no other place on earth that offers as much opportunity to cycle year-round in one of the most topographically diverse and beautiful regions in our country. Our paved roads are lightly trafficked and a road cyclist can ride for many, many miles without encountering a traffic light or a stop sign. The abundance of dirt trails and tracks is almost endless with access to mountain biking rides ranging from super easy and leisurely, to highly technical and challenging — and everything in between.

Here’s why.

Inyo County (the second largest county by area in California) and its northern neighbor, Mono County, are two of the least populated counties in California. Together these two counties cover just under 10% of the total land area of all of California, with a staggering 99% of land in Inyo County and 93.6% of Mono County designated as public lands.

What’s more — it’s not just the amount of public land available, it’s also the geography of the region that creates so much opportunity for incredible recreation. Inyo County is home to the lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States. The lowest point, Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, sits at 282 feet below sea level and a mere 85 miles west (as the crow flies) is the highest point, Mt. Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level. That means our topography is incredibly diverse. Within our lowlands, midlands, and highlands there are hot, dry deserts; warm, wet riparian river areas; cool, grassy meadows; shady, green high alpine forests; steep-sided, rocky canyons; snow covered valleys and craggy mountain peaks. It’s a pleasure‑seekers paradise.

Local residents are notably proud and pleased that we have so much space for a huge variety of cycling throughout the year. Our guests tell us that they visit often because each season offers something different and exciting to explore each time. And we know that many pro riders train in our big backyard so that they can get the benefit of high-altitude acclimatization, quiet roads, fantastic hill climbs and descents (on road and on dirt), and friendly hospitality in our welcoming western town.

Getting great rides requires a bit of planning. Our big backyard is huge and seasonal changes present different opportunities for various types of cycling. It’s important to know when and where to go to have the best rides for the type of biking you love to do. We suggest you study the information below and choose the biking adventures that best suit you, your family, and friends. You can choose as many adventures you like; find favorites and discover challenges.

Bishop is the heart of the Eastern Sierra. There’s a ton of fun riding to be done right here in our big backyard. Within little over than an hour’s drive north or south there’s even more!

#bikeBishop #bikingBishop #MTBBishop #roadbikeBishop #cycleBishop

Did you know?

Many road cycling websites and forums rank rides up steep mountain roads in categories like, toughest climbs, most elevation gained, highest elevation attained, most scenic, best mountain ride, and more. The mountain roads of the Eastern Sierra consistently rank in the top ten lists for California and the US, always outnumbering rides in any other region. As many as 7 of the 10 rides in some categories are in the Eastern Sierra.

Onion Valley Rd. Bishop. CA

Nearing the top of the steep, serpentine Onion Valley Rd.

Bring your bike to Bishop and ride

Whatever kind of cycling you like to do, there’s a road or trail or route for you to ride in the Eastern Sierra.

Road cycling is still one of the most popular ways to cycle. In almost every community around the world, it’s a method of commuting to and from work or school, it’s done as a form of exercise for physical and mental health, and it is also a highly competitive multi-disciplinary sport. It’s also a great mode of travel for a touring vacation and, for many around the world, it’s become a nomadic lifestyle.

One of the most important aspects of road cycling anywhere … is safety. Our Eastern Sierra paved roads are remarkably safe, some with good wide shoulders, and others with such light vehicle traffic use that a road cyclist can ride for hours and miles without seeing more than just a handful of cars.

Hundreds of miles of maintained paved road are rideable – from the lower elevations of the Eastern Sierra, at or below sea level in Death Valley National Park, to the higher elevations of the Owens Valley at around 4,500 feet above sea level, to the super high elevations of the mountain roads that climb up to incredible destinations such as: Lake Sabrina and South Lake, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, and Mosquito Flat all near or above 10,000 feet above sea level. Come ride for fun, for exercise, or for training and enjoy the benefits of clean air, wide open spaces with huge vistas, small communities with excellent amenities, and a host of other fun activities.

Take a look at this Road Cycling page that is dedicated to how much great road riding can be done around Bishop and throughout the Eastern Sierra. We’ve created maps, routes, elevation profiles, descriptions, and ratings and we keep it updated with current conditions and new information. We’ve also included great information on multi-day touring in and through our beautiful region.

If you want to take it off-road in our big backyard, there’s also a ton of mountain biking to be enjoyed here. There are some easy, cruisy tracks and trails at all but the highest elevations of our region, and the permutations for gravel grinder routes is almost endless. But best of all, there are some seriously good, hidden gem single-tracks. This is not a bike park. This is the biggest backyard bicycle adventure playground imaginable. It covers about 750 square miles of accessible terrain and there’s something for everyone – from families with little tykes to full-on bike adrenalin junkies. This also means that you gotta do your homework.

Check out our page dedicated to all things mountain biking around Bishop. There are maps, routes, elevation profiles, descriptions, and ratings and we keep it updated with current conditions and new information. We’ve also included some helpful information on multi-day bikepacking in the backcountry of our big backyard.

Did you know?

The advent of smooth or paved roads was originally due to the growing popularity of bicycles in the 19th century in the United Kingdom. As the railway took over the horse-drawn coach trade, commuting by bicycle became popular with the working class. Families and individuals began to move out of city centers and into the suburbs and better roads were needed to improve their commutes.

Roads were meant for bicycles!

Cycling Warm Springs Rd. Bishop. CA

Road cycling along Warm Springs Rd. A great ride for the whole family.

Where and when to ride

Bishop is situated pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the Eastern Sierra – by distance, by elevation, and by time.

The region comprises the two counties, Inyo and Mono, and covers a distance of about 250 miles south to north. There is one main highway, US 395, that runs through the region with Bishop located just about halfway. Near the south-eastern end of the region, Death Valley sits at and below sea level, and most of the western side of our region rises to well over 10,000 feet along the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Bishop is nestled at about 4,150 feet between this enormous range and another giant to the east, the White and Inyo Mountains, which also rises to over 10,000 feet. Bishop is almost in the center of this elevation profile. The time it takes to drive from Furnace Creek, the tourism hub of Death Valley, to Bishop is a little under 3-hours. Onward and upward to the northern end of region, which ends at the Mono County and California state line, is a drive of about 2½ hours. So, this puts Bishop about halfway on the timescale.

There you have it. Bishop is the most perfectly placed mid-point for year-round cycling adventures in the Eastern Sierra.

When winter is cold and snowy in the upper elevations – we ride in our cool, high-desert big backyard or head lower down to where it’s even warmer. In summer when our low- and mid-elevations are hot and sultry – we ride at higher elevations and in the mountains where it’s cool and refreshing. Spring and fall are delightfully unpredictable and always stunningly beautiful. Keep tabs on the local weather and road conditions to know where to ride on any given day.

Not everything is available all year, but each season has something special to offer. It is important to plan your ride.

Did you know?

Britain’s Bicycle Touring Club formed in 1878, later renamed Cyclists’ Touring Club, is the oldest national tourism organization in the world. In the US the League of American Wheelmen was founded two years later in 1880. The organization is now known as the League of American Bicyclists.

Fatbikes. Alabama Hills.

League of Fatbikes at Alabama Hills.

Plan your ride

Bishop, the Owens Valley, and nearby areas provide extensive opportunity for casual road riding and mountain biking for the whole family. Our big backyard is also perfect for seasonal training for competition cyclists on road and on dirt. As you plan your visit review the maps and list of potential rides for biking type, seasonal accessibility, and ride rating.

We’ve created four categories for each type of riding: Road Cycling and Mountain Biking. The rides indicated on the maps have a classification in each category and a description to give you an idea of what to expect so you can make an informed choice and get a great ride whenever you are in the Eastern Sierra.

Region: South. Central. North.

Compass icon. South  Map Icon. Central.  

Elevation: Low. Mid. High. Variable.

Elevation Icon. Low.  Elevation icon. Mid  Elevation Icon. High. 

Season: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter.

Season Icon. Spring  Season Icon. Summer  Season Icon. Fall  Season Icon. Winter

Rating: Easy. Moderate. Strenuous. Expert.

Rating Icon. Easy  Rating Icon. Moderate  Rating Icon. Strenuous  

Note that some of the routes are loops, which means you’ll start and end where you park your car. Others are point-to-point routes that can be done as out and back so, depending on your skill and fitness level, you could ride back to your vehicle. But a number of the steep downhill routes may require a shuttle. Make sure you know what to expect, what you can accomplish, and make a plan with a friend or family member if you need a pickup.

We have a great local transit service, Eastern Sierra Transit, that provides bus transport between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes (and beyond) all year. Plus, in the summer, the service provides twice daily roundtrip runs between Bishop and the Bishop Creek Recreation Area with scheduled stops at South Lake and Lake Sabrina and other intermediate stops along the way. Buses are equipped with bicycle racks making this a great way to get a shuttle in these areas.

Bishop and the Owens Valley have about a 92% chance of dry days, which means that there are about 335 sunny days a year for great cycling adventures in the Eastern Sierra. Just to be sure, call us at (760) 873-8405 or stop in at the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main Street in Bishop to check on current weather and road conditions.

Be prepared! Whether you are going road cycling or mountain biking, ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Many places in our beautiful big backyard don’t have cellphone signal. Dress in layers, have a basic bike repair kit, and pack a small headlamp. Wear sunscreen, even in winter. Carry plenty of water and energy rich snacks.

Choose your ride. Choose your adventure.

Did you know?

A recent study by the Outdoor Industry Foundation concluded that mountain biking is the second most popular method (after hiking) of getting on trails in the US. Mountain biking is considered to be somewhat more laid back than its counterpart, road cycling. It’s easy to get started and quick to improve.

Fatbiking. Bishop. CA

Mountain Biking Sand Canyon Trail

A bit of background about the humble bike

Cycling as a sport and for recreation has evolved and grown massively in the last 25 years. Driven by desire and technology it’s now possible to ride a bike, albeit a specifically designed bike, on almost any kind of terrain.

Broadly speaking there are two categories of biking: road biking and mountain biking. Within these two basic categories of biking are bike subsets. Bikes for road riding are specialized for: racing, commuting, cruising, touring, and a few other niched modes – with each having further specialization for specific needs and styles. Mountain bikes are designed for specific mountain conditions and styles: trail, enduro, downhill, cross-country, and fat-tire biking – and these too have further options for specialization.

In addition to this array of bike types there are cross-over bikes for use on a variety of surfaces from paved road to gravel such as: cyclo-cross, dual-sport, and hybrid adventure bikes. And now, with the improvements in battery technology, electric bikes (e-bikes) are seeing a massive resurgence and creating a huge impact on cycling. The idea is not new, the use of electric motors on bicycles is documented as far back as the 1890s. Today the increasing demand and widespread application of motorized cycling is being earnestly debated and legislation is likely to define their use in the future.

Added to this extensive range of cycling styles and bike choices, there’s also the time factor. Biking is more than just an afternoon joyride or a day of training, it’s also a multi-day pursuit and a long-term lifestyle. Bicycle touring is about as old the bicycle and now encompasses everything from fully-loaded, self-supported road touring to mixed terrain rough-cycling to lightweight bikepacking.

Did you know?

Bikepacking is the most recent development in adventure cycling. Its roots are traced back to John Stamstad, who pioneered an unsupported individual time trial on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in 1999. The term bikepacking was coined soon thereafter in the early 2000s.

More!

There are some fantastic cycling events and challenges in the Eastern Sierra and we have great retailers and rentals to get you on the road and out in the hills. Take a look at these links.

Clubs. Events. Challenges.
Bike Shops & Rentals

Plus, there is a wealth of information about cycling online and here are some links if you’re really keen to geek out about biking.

Did you know?

The world’s first official road cycling race was held in Paris, France on the May 31st, 1868. Although never officially confirmed, it is said to have been won by an Englishman, James Moore, who rode a wooden bicycle with iron wheels. Almost exactly 10-years later, on May 24th, 1878, the first bicycle race in America was held in Boston, Massachusetts. A Harvard student, Mr. C.A. Parker, is credited with having won the race.

And the rest, as we say, is history!

Visit Bishop

Visit these two great pages that have comprehensive information on Road Cycling and Mountain Biking. We also love it when our guests come to visit us at the Visitor Center in downtown Bishop at 690 N. Main St. Or you can call us on (760) 873-8405 if you have any other questions or want to tell us about your adventures. One thing we will know on any given day … is what the weather is doing. So, if you’re planning an imminent bike ride and just want to get the last-minute lowdown, call us or pop in and let us help you choose your best adventure.

Post your Eastern Sierra cycling adventures to Instagram and tag #visitbishop

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4 hours ago

We appreciate our local businesses as they are working to #KeepBishopSafe. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Inyo County continue to climb, so we ask you to please do your part to keep our community safe as well!! Thank you. ❤️ ... See MoreSee Less

We appreciate our local businesses as they are working to #KeepBishopSafe. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Inyo County continue to climb, so we ask you to please do your part to keep our community safe as well!! Thank you. ❤️

Comment on Facebook We appreciate our ...

I'm going to keep telling you Bishop just how much I miss you. 💜💜💜😷🐈

Stay safe! I wan to visit this fall!

Where is the truck located?

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2 days ago

It’s official...WE LOVE THE FAIR, BUT WE LOVE YOU MORE.

Sad news to our friends and families and riders and destruction derby drivers: The Tri County Fair has officially been cancelled for 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic rages on..... Fortunately, it looks like we are planning a major comeback in 2021 and for many years to come.
... See MoreSee Less

It’s official...

Comment on Facebook WE LOVE THE FAIR, ...

Darn, I was thinking about going there for your fair since ours was cancelled here.😏

Ok, but it will be missed!

. Not in Bollings it is going on this week

Sad, but necessary..

This year sucks!!

It will be back bigger and better, than ever. Stay well. <3

It's the Dems again!

Do sorry,. next year.

What ! Ran out of jobs !

Me too.

A couple more months of stuff like this and there will be Prime real estate in Bishop selling cheap!

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5 days ago

Heading into the weekend dreaming of backcountry lakes... which is your favorite?
#DreamNowVisitLater #KeepBishopSafe
Thank you Instagram user @kimonlhi for this spectacular shot!!
... See MoreSee Less

Heading into the weekend dreaming of backcountry lakes... which is your favorite? 
#DreamNowVisitLater #KeepBishopSafe
Thank you Instagram user @kimonlhi for this spectacular shot!!

Comment on Facebook Heading into the ...

Would have guessed Split Mtn, but have only flown over these mountains twice.

Too many to choose, the higher and more remote the better

Saddle Bag Lake. ❤️

Blue lake! The best, at least I know of~!!!

I need a good-looking tour guide(male) to show me around on my next visit. 😉🐈😷

So beautiful. I miss being up there.

Mt. Aggasisz? I probably butchered that spelling.

Blue Lake

Blue lake❣

Sabrina

Dorothy Lake

Horton Lake

Dorothy and Mildred

Beautiful

I'm guessing the trail to Bishop Pass at Bishop Lakes. :)

Beautiful

Upper Lamarck

Beautiful

That’s beautiful.

Nice 👍

Ruwau Lake, Tyee Lakes, upper Lamark lake, Blue lake, & Little Lakes Valley.

Terra Rankin

Lake.

Any part of Bishop is fine, I JUST WANT TO BE THERE TO ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE! 😀❤️😄💙

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6 days ago

Our friends at Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association welcome everyone to stop by for in-person visitor service plus a great selection of area maps, books and more. They do a great job of helping our guests recreate responsibly!Thanks ESIA for providing helpful information and advice to visitors on responsible recreation in our region! ... See MoreSee Less

Our friends at Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association welcome everyone to stop by for in-person visitor service plus a great selection of area maps, books and more.  They do a great job of helping our guests recreate responsibly!

1 week ago

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (Oxford Dictionary)
We are grateful to our COMMUNITY locally and afar, for loving and supporting BISHOP and Inyo County. ❤️

Here is a little glimpse of how our community has pulled together over the past few months:
www.bishopvisitor.com/eastern-sierra-covid-stories/
... See MoreSee Less

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (Oxford Dictionary)
We are grateful to our COMMUNITY locally and afar, for loving and supporting BISHOP and Inyo County.  ❤️

Here is a little glimpse of how our community has pulled together over the past few months:
https://www.bishopvisitor.com/eastern-sierra-covid-stories/

Comment on Facebook Community: a feeling...

The community stories are wonderful

The big deal when I was growing up was going to the Tri-County Fair rodeo, taking in a movie, and having dinner...all over Labor Day. Then there were the trips from Mammoth to Bishop to go to the grocery store, topped off by a stop at Schatz for sandwiches and to buy bread. What a wonderful place!!!

Used to watch movies at this theater back in the early 70's. Great memories wonderful town. I visit just about every year and enjoy the old school vibe. My parents started AYSO soccer in Bishop. I used to bicycle down the street as a kid, drop a fishing line and pull out lots of trout.

No Bishop does not need a Walmart mart or another supposed better grocery store. We do not have the people to work them. Plus we have new buildings that weren't supposed to be built and a whole mess of empty buildings. We want to keep it a small town feel.

I was sorry to hear that the JC Penny store closed there. I used to work there when I lived in Cali. I had the most wonderful coworkers and the best boss ever!!! Bishop will live on in my heart forever.

Remember Jill Kenmont👍👍

Great little town Bishop is, leave it alone. My mom graduated from Bishop High school, we went to Bishop many years for Christmas with my Grandparents

I was born in Bishop and moved out around 1990. I've moved all over California since then, and no matter where I moved to I always wanted to go back. Some day... Maybe when my kids are all grown and out of the house I'll take my wife and dogs and move back...

Great town. can't wait to come visit when things calm down. Missed Mule days and our family reunion at the lodge but we will be back

Looking forward to visiting as soon and we can! We love Bishop!

Love Bishop! Just passed thru Monday on the way back from Yosemite!

Bishop is in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth. The eastern Sierra and the Owens Valley will persevere.

I love that Bishop is a smaller town. It part id it s charm for visitors. Needed some items last trip , found them in town and what friendly people !! And you should fit your town , not always for the town to fit you.

3 yrs ago we just started driving , landed in Bishop, stayed several days, just loved that trip, no fish but who cares .... 😍🎣🚗💨💨

best town in California

We believe in Bishop. Stay well. <3

Between 1934 and 1939, I spent some Saturday afternoons watching movies at the theatre in Bishop - think the Hollands owned it then - one of the Holland boys was in my elementary school grade. Best wishes to all.

Bishop is fine the way it is.

Please don't change! I love you the way you are!!

We would like to keep it that way, but there are a lot of people coming into the area now who are leaving their trash on the ground & putting graffiti on any available surface. Do that S... at home, not in our town.

You have no idea how badly I need to visit You Bishop.

Saw it has been 100 degrees up there.

Play my brother Danny scene Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at that theater years and years ago

Lived here in the early 80’s

Soon as possible.

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