Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Did you know that there are countless children and adults who have never seen the Milky Way? Experts say that 80% of North Americans and one-third of humanity can no longer see the Milky Way from where they live due to light pollution. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to see, at least once in a lifetime, the amazing spectacle of the Milky Way and an intensely sparkling, starry night sky.

We’ve compiled an interactive guide to stargazing in the Eastern Sierra to help you learn more about a night sky experience here. Take some time to study our stargazing guide and make a plan to visit the Eastern Sierra for your stellar experience. When planning your trip to view the night sky consider all the various aspects that will affect what you will see in the sky. Keep a close watch on the weather and what each season will bring into view. Our guide includes a number of informative links that you can use to research and plan your trip.

The heart of the Eastern Sierra is perfectly situated for a brilliant night sky experience.

The Eastern Sierra still has incredibly dark, clear skies and the lack of light pollution in the Owens Valley is largely due to the fact that it is one the least populated regions in the country. Situated on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, the Owens Valley is in the ‘rain shadow’ of this magnificent mountain range. Weather statistics show that the region has a 92% chance of clear weather, resulting in about 335 clear nights a year. Within the valley, and higher up in the mountains on either side, are many easily accessible places where night sky viewing is exceptional. And, what makes these stargazing settings even more special, is that they have spectacular natural beauty of their own.

Night sky viewing is a year-round activity in the Owens Valley and should be coordinated primarily with moon phases, the seasons, timing of astronomical events, and the weather. On a cloudless, new moon night (when the moon is not illuminated by the sun) the stars will shine brightest for the longest period of time. Cold, clear winter nights present optimal conditions for night sky viewing, however, some high elevation destinations are not accessible during mid-winter. Summer months offer warm, dry nights that make this a perfect time for teaching kids about the cosmos. From late summer to early fall is the best time of the year to see the Milky Way. The brightest portion of this ribbon of stars arcs almost directly overhead from the southwest to the northeast parts of the sky.

Astronomy can be a fun and rewarding activity for the whole family. It’s as easy as looking up at the stars. A new smart phone is a great way to capture some simple snapshots of the night sky and there are many excellent star apps that can provide maps, charts, and information on what you will see in the sky. A good paper star chart would also be worth including in your astronomy kit.

Our guide includes an interactive map of stargazing hotspots along US Highway 395 from Lone Pine, 60 miles south of Bishop, to Mono Lake, 66 miles north of Bishop. There are innumerable places to stop, hike, bivvy for a few hours, or camp overnight for stargazing. Follow the stars on the map to see the descriptions and locations of these great stargazing places.

In addition to seeing the stars in the sky, visitors can tour a state-of-the-art radio telescope array. The Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), run by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), is one of the largest university-operated observatories in the world and hosts numerous projects in radio astronomy and cosmology. It was brought into operation in 1958 with one 32-ft radio telescope. Today, the scope of the operation is extensive and world-class. OVRO now has the capability to ‘listen’ and analyze data using multiple different types of radio telescope technologies. Plan your stargazing experience to include a tour of this fascinating facility.

For more detailed information on local weather, as well as other things to do and see in and around Bishop, call the Bishop Visitor Center at (760) 873-8405. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help you plan your trip to get the best possible experience.

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

22 hours ago

What's your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra?

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe
... See MoreSee Less

Whats your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra? 

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

Comment on Facebook

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

Fall

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...😊

Nice One!

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

Fall

Beautiful picture

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

Yes! 😅😁

We from Bishop

Fall🍁🍂🎃

Gorgeous

FALL...used to go up from L.A. EVERY OCT.

Autumn and Winter

Spring

Anything but fire season 😭

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

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

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

So pretty

Beautiful

Fall

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

Beautiful!

View more comments

3 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!!
... See MoreSee Less

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

View more comments

6 days 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!
... See MoreSee Less

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

View more comments

7 days ago

To any of our Inyo County residents....Please take a minute, if you haven’t yet, to sign up for the Inyo County emergency alerting system, CodeRED. This will ensure that if there is a local emergency such as an evacuation notice or missing child report that you will be notified. Stay safe and stay informed!
Click on this link to sign up:
public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/DAD807D480BF

📷 by John Paul DeRousseau
... See MoreSee Less

To any of our Inyo County residents....

Comment on Facebook

Jack Lila McKinney just making sure your signed up ❤️

View more comments

Load more