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Intro

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.

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

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1 day ago

Truth is, we are still buried in smoke here in the Owens Valley, but we're not going to let it keep us from dreaming about the fall colors that soon will dazzle our eyes and warm our souls...!!!!

Photo by @travelforpictures from October 2019
#fallcolors #keepbishopsafe
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Truth is, we are still buried in smoke here in the Owens Valley, but were not going to let it keep us from dreaming about the fall colors that soon will dazzle our eyes and warm our souls...!!!!

Photo by @travelforpictures from October 2019
#fallcolors #keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

Sorry about all the smoke. Hope you can enjoy this beautiful scenery again soon.

Beautiful, I love coming up each year and seeing this in person

I look forward to visiting next year. Very disappointed that I couldn’t make it again this year.

Sorry your car show got canceled. We come every year.

Were coming 2nd week of Oct for 49th Birthday! Super excited😊

Just uproad from Bishop creek lodge.

Looks like the road to lake Lundy.

So very beautiful, love the picture 🙂🙂❤❤

Wonderful vacation destination

Pretty time of year!

I hope they open up soon!!

Thank You. Cheered me up🍁🍁🍁🐈😷

Beautiful ❤

my view from my cabin window

Was this today?

Beautiful !!!!

Very pretty

Pretty

Beautiful

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4 days ago

What's your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra?

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe
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Whats your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra? 

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

All seasons but fall especially! Been going every October for the last 9 years... Also always stop at Mahogany Smoked Meats before going home.

Fall when leaves change and late summer when tubing in cut off’s by day with jeans and flannel by the fire at night

I was raised on the Eastern side of the Sierras. When I was young it was Summers. When I got a little older it was Spring for the opening of trout season. Now at 73 it's Fall...😊

I go every year! 2nd or 3rd week of October! Beautiful scenery and weather!

I have to say mid to late fall. Although mid spring is awesome as well. ✌️

We from Bishop

Fall🍁🍂🎃

Autumn and Winter

Spring

Anything but fire season 😭

Fall is the best...but the other 3 run a close 2nd!

Yes! 😅😁

Gorgeous

Fall

Nice One!

Love the fall leave. We try to go every year in October

Fall

So pretty

Beautiful

Fall

Beautiful picture

Fall by far! I love the colors. We try to go every year in October for my husband's birthday.

Fall for sure. Before the snow shuts the roads. And early summer. When it is just a little cooler. 🐈😷

Beautiful!

In Bishop all of them. Bishop picture love this site 🙂🙂❤❤

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6 days ago

With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to??
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!
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With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to?? 
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!

Comment on Facebook

Lol whatever floats your boat Bishop. With way things are we might be in a middle of some other bs that will shut it down. I’m done hoping and waiting for “better” times to come.

its sept 21??!!

Can’t wait!!

oh next yr ugh

Looks like she needs an enema !

Mary Allegra Nicol

Melissa Atkins... why not me?

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1 week ago

Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!!

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!
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Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!! 

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!

Comment on Facebook

🙏God Bless you all. I have been praying for rain to help put all the fires out and is in the forecast for some areas yeh!

God Bless all of you amazing men and women fighting these horrible fires. Stay safe!🙏❤️👩‍🚒👩‍🚒👍

Thanks guys!! Hope you all stay safe and return home to your families soon!!! Bless you all❤️

Wonderful pic.of these brave Firefighters! Prayers for their safety! 🙏🏻💕🙏🏻

Thank you to ALL FF's and Incident Command crews, Strike Teams busting butt out there. Love & prayers for All Your Safety from Santa Rosa 💜😷🐈

🙏 to all the first responders and thank you for your hard work.

Thank you Bishop firefighters for all of your extremely hard work!

A big Thank You To All Our Firefighters God Bless You And Your Families Stay Safe

Sending love and prayers from the Florida Panhandle. Be Safe! God Bless you and yours!

Thank you for your service. and God Bless You All .

God be with you all. Thank fort doing what you do

What a commitment! Thank you! Your work can never be repaid!!!

God bless you boys! Please stay safe!

Thank you God bless and stay safe

God Bless you all🙏☮️

Thank you all for what you do for us everyday 💗

Stay safe 🚒😊👍🏼

Amen

Ty

👊👍🤙😎🙏

Thanks to all the firefighters out in California, Oregon & Washington who work tirelessly everyday ❗️❗️. You are true heroes❗️

This is a spectacular photo, a real prizewinner! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks never were more than a few brave people

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