Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center


OHV playground in our big backyard

At the base of the White Mountains, 5 miles east of the center of Bishop, is an exceptional off-road motorcycling and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) area. The Poleta Open Area, covering 2,500 acres, consists of about 50 miles of single-track and ATV trails interspersed within a system of OHV trails and roads leading through almost one million acres of the Inyo National Forest.

Whereas most of the larger network comprises of double track native surface road, where vehicles are required to stay on designated roads, the Poleta Open Area, is approved for cross-country and open motorized vehicle travel.

At the northern end of the Poleta area the small, once bustling town of Laws served the railroad station when the “Slim Princess” ran along its narrow gauge through this valley. Now the Laws Railroad Museum & Historic Site is a beautifully preserved reminder of an earlier form of motorized travel.

Laws Railroad Museum & Historic Site

What Makes It Great

Managed jointly by the Bishop area Forest Service and BLM authorities this open area with its excellent network of trails is linked to the bigger network making the opportunities for dirt bike riding seem almost endless.

The area provides for a wide variety of ATV riding including motorcycles, dune buggies, jeeps and SUVs. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced technical single-track trails as well as 4-wheeled driving routes.

Excellent maps have been produced by the California Trail Users Coalition and are available free of charge at many of the trailheads and, of course, the Bishop Visitor Center.

Who Is Going to Love It

Silhouettes of the old railroad relics

If you are a motoring enthusiast this is a place for you. There’s a road or trail or cross-country adventure that’s just right to put you and your vehicle to the test. You can challenge your skills or just let off some steam.

For the others in your group who want to go at a slower pace the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site is not just another theme park – it’s the real deal. Many original buildings, train engines and cars, salvaged and restored structures, and thousands of artifacts celebrate the rich history of this railroad.

Best Season

Plenty of tracks & trails for OHV fun

Spring is magnificent in the foothills of the White Mountains. The trails are firm, lined with desert flowers, the air is fresh and cool, and the longer days offer many hours of daylight for adrenaline filled adventure. It’s really a great place to play year-round and fall is the next best time for OHV fun. Summer can be pretty hot at the lower elevations and winter can, at times, provide some snowy, icy conditions.

The railroad museum is open year round from 10am to 4pm daily. Summer is super for kids of all ages and train rides on the old Death Valley Brill Car No. 5 are fun for all. See the summer train ride schedule here. Celebrate the holiday season on the second Saturday in December at the “Railroad Express” with rides in DV#5 rail car, games, prizes, goodies to eat, carol singing, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, story telling and so much more railway magic.

The old train turntable at Laws

Directions. Parking. Regulations.

There are plenty of access points between Silver Canyon Rd, 5 miles north of Bishop at Laws, and 4 miles east of Bishop on East Line St on Poleta Rd. Dirt tracks and turnouts provide ample parking for trucks and trailers for easy offloading of ATVs. The greater OHV network also provides shared road usage for off-highway vehicles on designated roads around Bishop.

Please obey posted signage and make sure that all OHVs have a California green or red sticker or be street legal. All vehicles must be equipped with a Forest Service approved spark arrester. Tread Lightly! has an informative guide to responsible dirt biking.

About the Author: Gigi de Jong

blog author image

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.

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Wondering why it is so dry right now? Here's a pretty clear explanation of our current weather pattern. ... See MoreSee Less

What is up with this dry weather pattern? Well, as Wally explains, persistent high pressure along the West Coast has blocked the usual progression of Pacific storm systems into the region. This has le...

View on Facebook

If you missed this year's Railroad Express event out at Laws Railroad Museum, make a note for 2018. It gets better every year! ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Inyo National Forest is sharing some of the best images from 2017 over on their Facebook page, including these of Ruwau Lake (a side trail along the Bishop Pass Trail). Enjoy and start planning your hikes for next summer! ... See MoreSee Less

As we reflect on 2017 and look forward to 2018, we are sharing some of the highlights from last year. Here's a favorite hike to to Ruwau Lake (a side trail along the Bishop Pass Trail). Share your fav...

View on Facebook