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Bishop Visitor's Center

The valley is wide, the mountains high, and exhilarating 4×4 adventures are almost limitless. The Inyo National Forest is home to some of the nation’s most spectacular alpine scenery.

A legal system of roads and trails for motorized vehicles was designated here in 2009 following many years of inventory and analysis. This included public involvement to balance the needs for recreational opportunities and to protect the unique character of our public lands. The result is an extensive network of 2,200 miles of OHV trails and roads providing access through almost one million acres of the Inyo National Forest.

Of these legal routes most are double-track, native surface roads, but about 50 miles of single-track and ATV trails are interspersed throughout this network. In addition to this system many of these routes link to adjacent routes managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Off-road driving is a popular activity in the Eastern Sierra for both local and visiting 4×4 enthusiasts. Many travel from far afield to test their mettle (and metal) on these adventure trails and locals venture out often for fun and challenge.

In less than 30 minutes drive from Bishop are three excellent routes that will take you up into the mountains where the air is cool, the scenery spectacular, and the rugged terrain a test for driver and vehicle.

Buttermilk Road

Many who visit here know the Buttermilk area is a favorite place for bouldering. The first few miles of the Buttermilk road, from the junction on California State Route 168, just 7.7 miles west of Bishop, are well traveled by climbers to access the impressive boulders and rocky outcrops. This short section of the road is wide and fairly corrugated, but beyond the climbing area it becomes less suited to two-wheel drive, low clearance vehicles and becomes the domain of the 4×4.

The road bears the Forest Service designation 07S01 and is 13.1 miles long between the two points where it junctions with CA168 near Bishop and 1.4 miles from Aspendell.

The route has a good assortment of obstacles and challenges at a moderate level. There are rocky sections, stream crossings, and a couple of relatively steep inclines. The road travels below overhanging tree arbors, over flat open meadows, it narrows in forested sections, and steps up over a few larger rocks. If there has been recent rain the road can be very muddy in places with large pools of standing water.

There is an excellent mid point for a picnic alongside McGee Creek. A large flat area can accommodate a few vehicles and with easy turnaround space. The trees are tall and shady and the creek is cool and refreshing. Depending on the rate of flow it’s possible to find a safe eddy for a dip in the invigorating water.

The route is navigable in either direction and it’s a quick drive there or back along CA168.

Late afternoon on the Buttermilk Road

Late afternoon on the Buttermilk Road

Silver Canyon Road

Beginning just a few miles north of Bishop is a very popular off-road route that climbs 6,500 feet in 11.5 miles. Silver Canyon Road begins in Laws on US Highway 6, 4.3 miles from the Bishop Visitor Center.

Managed under the auspices of the US Forest Service this route designation 06S02 terminates just beyond White Mountain Road, which runs along the crest of the White Mountains.

It is an exciting and challenging 4×4 drive up or down that requires a fairly skilled driver and well-equipped vehicle to deal with obstacles. The terrain is rugged and the surface can be dry and loose or muddy and slippery in places. The switchbacks are tight and washouts are not uncommon. The canyon walls are steep and sometimes precarious.

The route runs the gamut from moderate to very difficult. The few highly technical parts may not be many, but navigating these safely can be the difference between an enjoyable off-road adventure and a frightening experience.

For a fun day outing drive this 4×4 route up the canyon to the junction of White Mountain road, FS04S01, turn right and travel along the graded dirt road until it becomes paved and you arrive at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center. Stop in and absorb the wonders of this unique place and learn a little more about the fascinating world in which we live.

Return back to Bishop south along White Mountain road, west on CA168, then north on US Highway 395. The entire loop is approximately 57 miles of which 15 miles is dirt that will present a fun and challenging drive. The paved drive along the crest of the White Mountains and down the canyon back to the valley floor is a lovely, winding road with spectacular views.

Looking down from the top of Silver Canyon

Looking down from the top of Silver Canyon

Papoose Flat

Papoose Flat road is a wonderfully challenging 4×4 route that will put you and your vehicle to the test. Travel 15 miles south from Bishop on US Highway 395 then take the turn east onto CA168. In less than 2.5 miles turn right onto Death Valley Road and drive 11.3 miles along this quiet, scenic mountain road.

A small sign indicates the turnoff for Papoose Flat on FS09S15. Keep right at the fork you arrive at almost immediately. If you choose to return via the Squaw Flat road you will be rejoin the road at this fork.

Here too the road is not gnarly all the way, but the gnarly bits will be the make or break sections. The route serves up all manner of challenges from steep slopes to rocky scree to big steps and tight squeezes. It also provides magnificent views and a surprising alien looking landscape. Be cognizant of weather conditions and forecasts as summer storms build quickly up here and flash flooding is a potential risk factor.

This route can be combined with the Squaw Flat road, FS36E404, to make a 25.4-mile loop. This road will also present its share of challenges and drivers are cautioned to plan this trip carefully. Make sure that all vehicles are suitable for rugged off-road terrain and safety precautions are well considered.

There are wonderful campsites at regular intervals along this route. Some spots are nestled among the towering rock formations, others overlook the Owens Valley below and more make use of the shaded groves of pine forest. There is little water to be found in these mountains so be sure to carry sufficient water for all persons and animals on board.

View from on high on Papoose Flat

View from on high from Papoose Flat

Planning

There are excellent maps available from the California Trail Users Coalition and the US Forest Services hosts an interactive travel website that is a great resource for planning off-road adventures.

Local knowledge is very valuable when preparing trips into the unknown. The local 4×4 club has a wealth of information and experience and our Bishop Visitor Center guides can provide maps and recommendations on when, where, what and how.

As with so many of the fantastic adventures that can be had in the Eastern Sierra – be prepared! Take extra clothing, food and water on your 4×4 trip. Plan your trip and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Don’t deviate from your planned route unless absolutely necessary or you can let someone know. Cell signal is sparse or non-existent in many places so don’t count on it.

There’s so much more out there to drive and explore and all it takes is a little research and planning to have a great 4×4 adventure in the Eastern Sierra.

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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

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5 days ago

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

#LoveBishop #historicbishop
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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

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7 days ago

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

Photo by John Paul DeRousseau
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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

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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!
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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!

🙏🏻

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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

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