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Around 700,000 years ago, the Volcanic Tablelands were formed from the erupting caldera in Long Valley. Near the small California town of Bishop, the Volcanic Tableland has become known around the rock climbing world as one of the more awesome spots to explore. Before rock climbing and westward expansion, the Paiute-Shoshone Indians resided here in the valley, creating and leaving behind stunning petroglyphs that are scattered throughout the Tableland.While no real hiking or running trails exist in the tablelands, a handful or roads for bikes, ORVs, and cars help make this a great place for trail runners looking for big views, history and desert adventure. The best way to see all this land is by running the Volcanic Tablelands Loop and then exploring the rocks and mountains on your own to find the unmarked petroglyphs.

What Makes It Great

With limited maintained trails for hiking and running, the vast majority of exploration in the region is done on the variety of jeep trails or on your own. There are a few rock climbing maps and guides to good bouldering, but the Volcanic Tablelands are mostly unmarked and wild.

The Volcanic Tableland Loop is one of the few marked areas, consisting of mainly rolling doubletrack routes and dirt roads. The loop run might be nearly a marathon in distance, but this trail is ideal for nearly every level of runner to enjoy. Gaining just 1,308 feet over 24.3 miles, this route will give you the very best views of the entire area, while letting you get in a long run with minimal gain. The land and the views, combined with the ever-present feeling of the history of humanity on your shoulders brings an awareness of yourself and your impact on the environment to the forefront of your brain.

Running in the Volcanic Tableland is what many feel it would be like to run on alien terrain. With each step, the possibility of discovering a 7,000 year old petroglyph on a rock in this stark region. As scrub brush and rock ledges give way to gorgeous panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, wonder, geology and beauty extend out in all directions. Spending the entire day running out here also means you get to stay the night, where stargazing is incredible.

Who is Going to Love It

The roads and bike tracks at Volcanic Tableland will work for all levels of trail runners, but the main trail in the area is for those looking for an ultra distance. While the loop is the best running route, there are smaller excursions you can go on if you need something easier, or you can just take off and literally run for the hills.

If you are a fan of creating your own adventure and keeping locations of incredible petroglyphs a secret, you will love the region. With seclusion, stunning views and the chance to stumble upon some unmarked petroglyphs left by the Paiute-Shoshone Indians that lived here many generations ago, trail running here is just the beginning of discovering this incredible and historic landscape.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the town of Bishop, head north on State Highway 6 until you reach 5 Bridges Road. Take a left here and drive for five miles until it turns into a dirt road. Soon, you will reach a BLM kiosk that will provide a detailed map and some useful route info on the Tablelands.

Look HERE for more trail running options in the Bishop Area.

Featured image provided by BLM

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1 day ago

Sunsets around here never get old. 😍
#nofilter #visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
Photo by Betsy Johnson
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Sunsets around here never get old. 😍
#nofilter #visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
Photo by Betsy Johnson

Comment on Facebook

I've got a lot of nice trout up in Bishop I love it there

Beautiful picture

Love the sky's @ sunsets and sunrise. I have some beautiful pictures of the area. This looks to be below pleasant valley campground on the lower Owens. I fly fished all over the west, This is still my favorite water!!!

What a lovely picture of the beautiful, colorful ,peaceful sky it's so breathtaking. 💘

Classic Western Sky with cattle to add to the picture. Hearing some Western music in the back ground. Just need a windmill. <3

Those Happy Cows love the Bishop sunsets.


And I love Bishop!😊

I love it in the late afternoon when the Sierra's cast their shadow on the White Mountains

HOME ! !

These views never get old. MIss them.

Beautiful Sun 🌞set

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1 day ago

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Comment on Facebook

Snow in the mountains, but dry in the valley, that's why we love Bishop!


God I miss it!


Home sweet home beautiful

Ready to roll there!!!!


Every time I go south on 395 I'm amazed at the beauty of the eastern Sierra Nevada could spend a lifetime in the Mountains There

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1 day ago

Definitely feels and looks like winter around here these days.... this is a shot from yesterday.
📷 by Julie Faber
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
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Definitely feels and looks like winter around here these days.... this is a shot from yesterday. 
📷 by Julie Faber
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Wish you'd post what mountains we're looking at. Lovely photograph!

This is absolutely beautiful! 😊😀

wow, such a beautiful post, need long johns to stay longer then an hour in that snow ?

Awesome picture


... name of the "pyramid peak" please.....

Hello Tom!

Mt. Tom





I need to go fishing on the Owens or PVR, been a while.

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3 days ago

Who loves a little winter fishing???? We've got it year-round here!!Out side enjoying the lower Owens River. Snow storms are rare in the Owens Valley. Snow only lasts a few days at the most. Photo by @leviaguilera_photography ... See MoreSee Less

Who loves a little winter fishing???? Weve got it year-round here!!

Comment on Facebook

Glad to see L A didn’t get all the Owens valley water!

Beautiful background !

Looks cold, but what a great place.

plenty of brown trout,large trout at bridgport res

always did ice fishing onway to bridgport

He should wear one of those wrist bands or forehead bands which shows his temperature so he can regulate. Risky sports have science to make them safer.

Love to go fishing in this stream ! Look at the great snow.😁

Refreshing, stunning, incredibly beautiful and the bestest fishing ever ! I love Bishop !😲👍🇺🇸🦅🇺🇸🎅☃️🎄💥

Oh yea!! He’s gettin them native Browns right there!!

I have fished the Lower Owens for many years, winter is the best because of reduced flows. Great Blue wing olive hatches, and plenty of wild browns. I fished this same run pictured . Love this River and the town of Bishop.


Benton crossing?

That looks so amazing

Jo Nathan we need to go asap!

Do you know where your legs are?

Is that you Josh Beck?

Fred Powers



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