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Bishop Visitor's Center

Our world is a world of wonder. Our big backyard is especially wonderful.

There are few places in the world where evidence of the natural history of a region is more obvious and interesting than in the Eastern Sierra. The forces that have shaped our world have produced an astonishing assortment of observable characteristics that give us insight into the creation of this part of our planet. These distinctive features present an opportunity to view, firsthand, the results of these forces. Aspects of nature that seem improbable and unexpected are wonderous and beautiful. Elements of geography and topography that appear inconsistent and disrupted have logical explanations. Everything here has happened for a reason and we are witness to the wonder of nature.

Columnar basalt at Devils Postpile National Monument

Devils Postpile National Monument. Photo: Frank Kovalchek – Wikimedia commons

This land, before time was measured and records were kept, was very different to what we see today. What is now the western USA was once separated from what is today the eastern USA by a massive inland sea. As the region dried, and the earth lifted and dropped and exploded, it developed into what we see today. It continues to crack, and warp, and shape our landscape. The Eastern Sierra, unlike so many other primordial lands of the world, remains relatively untouched by human interference. It is still wild and diverse, with massive mountains and deep valleys. And most of it is freely and easily accessible to everyone.

The Eastern Sierra is made up primarily of two counties, Inyo and Mono. Inyo County, the second largest county by area in California, and its northern neighbor Mono County (pronounced moh-no) are two of the least populated counties in California. Together these two counties cover just under 10% of the total land area of all of California. Within that, a staggering 99% of land in Inyo County and 93.6% of Mono County is designated as public lands. This adds up to an incredible amount of beautiful and diverse land for adventure and exploration.

Bishop is the largest town along the highway corridor that runs through the Eastern Sierra and it’s situated pretty much right in the middle of the region. Death Valley National Park is a little over 150 miles south (almost all of it entirely within in Inyo County) and the gateway to Yosemite National Park is little under 150 miles north.

We like to say Bishop is, “Halfway between heaven and, well … heaven!”

Visit us virtually. Our Natural History page is an exploration into many of the most fascinating features of the Eastern Sierra landscape.

Death Valley, despite its macabre name does, in fact, sustain a large variety of life. The sheer size and diversity of its terrain creates opportunity for plants, animals and insects to survive and thrive in a seemingly hostile environment. It’s also where the lowest point on the North American continent sits at 282 feet below sea level. It is known as Badwater Basin. The Eureka Dunes, the tallest sand dunes in North America, lie in an enclosed basin at 3,000 feet above-sea-level. These dunes cover an area about 3 miles long and 1 mile wide and rise to about 680 feet off the valley floor. The mighty Sierra Nevada was once thought to be one of the youngest ranges on the planet, but it is now believed to be at least 40 million years old and it’s still growing. It holds the highest peak in the contiguous USA, Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet above sea level. Below it is the Owens Valley, an impressive rift valley within the Great Basin, the largest endorheic basin the USA. The Owens Valley is considered the deepest valley in the United States.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine trees against a darkening sky. near Bishop, Ca.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pines. Photo: @richmophoto

The planet’s oldest living things live here high on a mountaintop and some individuals are almost 5,000 years old. Massive boulders, some 40 feet high, are scattered around a hillside miles from where they first formed. Colossal columns of rock in near-perfect geometric shapes form a huge buttress that look as if they were laid by the hand of a graceful giant. A line of volcanic craters, domes, and cinder cones are connected by geography, but separated by time of over 200,000 years. The youngest being only about 170 years old. And a large lake, too salty for fish life, harbors trillions of brine shrimp and brine flies that are food for the millions of migratory birds that flock to this region. This is Mono Lake, which is believed to be at least one million years old – the oldest lake in North America.

This is a land of superlatives. It is a huge, ancient, and mostly wild land of contrasts and extremes.

These are just some of the many magnificent features outlined in our Natural History page that could guide you through our world of wonder. Planning for a visit here is key to creating your best adventure. Visit our page, follow the links, study the maps, review the stories, and call us (760-873-8405) with any questions you may have. We have local experience and knowledgeable staff on hand to discuss your dreams, learn your goals, and help you create the best experience possible.

We can help you Choose Your Own Adventure for when the time comes to venture out.

Mono Craters seen from US 395. Photo: Daniel Mayer

Mono Craters seen from US 395. Photo: Daniel Mayer – Wikimedia Commons

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2 days ago

If only these ancient trees could talk...#BristleconePine
Beautiful shot @richmophoto.jpg
#KeepInyoOpen #WashCoverDistance
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If only these ancient trees could talk...#BristleconePine
Beautiful shot @richmophoto.jpg
#KeepInyoOpen #WashCoverDistance

Comment on Facebook If only these ...

Looove the Bristlecone Pine Grove. I visited it several times and I'm awed by these magnificent trees each time. They are the oldest living organisms on earth! ❤

What an amazing experience it is to walk among those ancient beauties!

We’ve seen these ancients and it really takes you away...

I have been there and falled in loved 🥰 Those trees are magical. I love Bishop 😍

Thanks for the picture. My favorite tree for sure. I even have the Tee shirt. Love walking in that grove. Stay well, until I get back there again. <3

Amazing to walk amongst these ancient trees.

They Do:sayin Dont Move Around So Much and STICK Around Awhile:)

Looks like wizard of oz lol

Bristlecone pine.

The oldest of these magnificent trees have seen more than a million sunrises. They were alive when your 200th great grandparents were.

Guard them! Crazy times!

Special area. It was a honor to walk amongst these ancients.

An amazing place to visit

Went there it’s amazing

Maybe we wouldn’t want to hear what they would have to say.

You are speaking to my Soul now Bishop💜😷🐈😘

What would they tell us?

Knotted Tales🌲🌲

Amazing view

I will take you there Madison Hope-Hokulani Buffington’s. This is what I have been telling you about.

Fantastic.

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3 days ago

Lake Sabrina has been BEAUTIFUL these past few days. Blue skies and amazing temperatures. Please remember to travel safely and do your part to protect yourself and our community!!
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thank you, @angelicalinder_ for the photo!!
... See MoreSee Less

Lake Sabrina has been BEAUTIFUL these past few days. Blue skies and amazing temperatures. Please remember to travel safely and do your part to protect yourself and our community!!
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thank you, @angelicalinder_ for the photo!!

Comment on Facebook Lake Sabrina has ...

Andy Harris...let's go!

Looks great

Where is Lake Sabrina located? I've never been there.

Wish I could go

David Dietz I got to go here

Have you ever fished Cardinal Pond just below Sabrina? It is post card beautiful. My teenaged gradaughter said long ago, if I ever become a writer I'm coming here to write.

Beautiful

now that's the best place all around..beats traveling miles and miles its in our backyard and its gorgeous.....this is 19 miles up from Bishop, Abouit a 5 hr drive...

Beautiful place👍

Liz Benitez Grizelda Grizelda 😍

Wonderful place to spend a weekend

Gorgeous!

So beautiful

Beautiful

So beautiful thanks for sharing ❤❤😊😊

Gorgeous.

Madison Hope-Hokulani Buffington this is one of the places I want to take you to.

Wear is that place at

Bishop is an amazing place! So beautiful year round! Love it!

Used to go at least four different weekends a year. Beautiful place.

Always been so pretty. I miss all the lakes around Bishop.

Live the lake one if my favorites . Went there in October one year brave kids In a small trailer . Freezing but so fun..

Love this place!

Ano ano ang mga nahuhuli diyan.may tilapia din diyan

We went out fishing to different lakes since Saturday, but we didn't go to sabrina. 🎣🐟

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4 days ago

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000' peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!
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Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000 peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. https://www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen 
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!

Comment on Facebook Who loves to get up ...

I went up to 12,500 at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, N.M. My head nearly exploded.

Yep. I feel so amazing in high altitudes.

Very well done. I’ve never been over 12,000 and that just about ended me.

How come females look so good after bagging a peak, but guys look tuckered out?

Why cant we post pics on this site anymore?

Been there a couple of times. Better than Whitney

Always head up to Whites Mountain for Ancient Bristol Cone Forest.

Congratulations!

BEAUTIFUL

I like those kinds of places. You can get a natural high. I think I've been there before. Hope to get back there soon. <3

Awesome

Been up there.

Badassery

Great photo! Looking great @ 14k+ ❤️

Definitely has a great view

Just amazing!

...would have done it 40 years ago

Love Bishop👍

Mammoth parade starts at 11:00

My friend Jack McBroom from Hemet climbed the highest 14 peaks on California in about four and a half days. Not sure that is still the record but I know it was for awhile. Sports Illustrated did an article about him.

Hayden Pester adding this to our list

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