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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.

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

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4 days ago

❤️Today, we wish you warmth and love wherever you are! ❤️
(Oh, and thoughts of fun and relaxation in the Eastern Sierra!!)
Great photo @sawna
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
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❤️Today, we wish you warmth and love wherever you are! ❤️
(Oh, and thoughts of fun and relaxation in the Eastern Sierra!!)
Great photo @sawna 
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

There is no way its that warm yet in Bishop. I Live in Sonoma County and its too cold here for a sleeveless shirt or shorts.

Beautiful, so beautiful 😊😊❤❤

How gorgeous!

I love Bishop been going there ever since I was 10 years old now 61

Oh how I miss this Chris Schock

Minerets. Ice burg lake.

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5 days ago

Are we missing anything?? 😉 ... See MoreSee Less

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...and just yesterday I came across a box of old Bishop Mule Day pins that had belonged to my Grandmother Ina Piper. Some from the early 50s. I Love Bishop.

Mahogany smoked meats for some jerky!! 🤤

That’s a big Amen! All of the above! Except someone would be out of their mind to jump into a lake.

Don't forget the Bakery !!!! We took home so much ,,,it was wonderful .

Laws Museum. Pull off on any side road in the Valley and walk. Look at the mountains. Breathe. Listen to the quiet.

Lunch & a Margarita @ LaCocina in Bishop !! & dont forget a stop @ Rossis in Big Pine on way up 395 or on your way home !! Stop you wont want to miss but check their days & hours open as they vary !! Mikes getting independent in his young age !! Did i say young ? meant well preserved !! Al the Sierras are a fun stop ENJOY your stay !!!

Visit the Bakery, hike to Blue Lake, and eat some delicious soup at the bowling alley before you play a bowl a game or two.

Get a chocolate dipped cone at the frosty chalet in big pine!

Awwwwww! Just replace the noun with any other small California city!

Visit Laws Railroad Museum & Historical Site! Bonus, on Wednesdays and Thursdays volunteers in the mining display put on a great show.

The entire trip was breath-taking and beautiful! We loved the snow, and I can't wait to experience the other seasons in this gorgeous place! My brother Adrian's spirit was guiding us throughout the entire trip! 💜💛➕

Mahogany’s meats!!! The jerky ! Omg soooo good!

On our way in June : Fish for the lunker in Concuct Camp out at Silver Lake Hike up Yost Creek Check out the Mighty Bristlecone😎👍

Maybe missing, while visiting the Eastern Sierra, please dispose of all your litter responsibly.

Have a beer in Rusty’s saloon and a burger at the barn.

Be a great human and pick up someone’s trash while fishing the Owens River

God willing We will be fishing in Rock creek this July

Visit my brother who works for the Forest Service. One of those great guys who tries to keep everything up and running for the masses 😍

In other words, kinda like I do several times every year.

My kids and I always cleaned up when we went fishing there. People have no respect and leave their trash without thinking about if.

Stay at Parchers Resort and fish at South Lake. 🌲🎣

Hike, of course!

Can you do all this stuff right now in February?

Stand along Owens River at sunset

That is one heck of a list!

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6 days ago

River therapy 😍
Video thanks to @wil.daniels
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
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Comment on Facebook

I could sit and fish right there ALL DAY!!

I Love 💕 to go back one of these days. It is Awesome there.

I just visited last weekend, and it was this beautiful! I want to go back hopefully soon! ➕💛💜

Life goals is to one day go fishing with you in my beloved Bishop, CA ! Stephen Bishop

Love being in bishop and in the eastern Sierras. Fishing and backcountry is pretty awesome. Jacks is good too.

Best time of year to fish for those beautiful wild browns. Blue wing Olive's can come off early afternoon and it is a blast. Love this river!!!

beautiful! I really like going there because its so beautiful!

Love the breeze blowing through he grass.

I need to get there . Hopefully sometime in April

Love this, I could sit here all day!

Cheryl Kimsey Killian that looks so Awesome and Relaxing. I would Love 💕 to be there.

I've spent a lot of time in Bishop.... On Horseback and skis.

Beautiful place

Beautiful picture 😊😊❤❤

So beautiful

I can stare at this all day!

Looks so peaceful!

Owens river... we are from Bishop ...

Gorgeous view


Nice fishing spot!

Miss this !!

Thanks for posting this


Is that the Owens River

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1 week ago

Fishing around here sure is magical ✨
Thanks for the shot, @miss.outside
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
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Fishing around here sure is magical ✨
Thanks for the shot, @miss.outside
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Hey, there I was, 40 yrs. ago! Well,almost like me, uh,I had a fishing pole and a dog😗🤣😂🤣🤣

Hey....I haven't seen this girl on the river? Must of been at the wrong place! Lol

Beautiful picture 😊😊❤❤

Jerry Machue can’t wait to get back up to Bishop! ♥️


Love this picture! She has the magic wand.

The best girls fish!


Alexandra Coyote-Phoenix

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