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I‘m not going to lie, I was stoked to return to Bishop, California. As in, I threw my arms around and did a little victory dance at my desk. Some places–like Bishop–just grab a hold of you, and though you’re traveling, they make you feel at home. I was thrilled to explore deeper in this underrated part of California! Visiting Bishop once again during their fall/winter season meant fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, the same friendly folks, all the same restaurants, and still much of the same great outdoor recreation.

I got outside, again.

Winter typically conjures feelings of snow and snow sports when you’re vacationing in the mountains. You can certainly get a hold of that up the way at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, but there is plenty of other outdoor recreation within a close proximity to Bishop. To name a couple of those activities…


The Gem Lakes trail is popular for darn good reason. It’s a short drive from town, and there are stunning mountain views the entire way to the lake. Hike this trail in the off-season (before the road closes and you have to strap on snowshoes!) and you’ll definitely find the place to yourself. If you don’t fancy walking in snow, there are plenty of other hikes at lower elevations for you, too!


It’s no secret that the climbing in Bishop is world-class. The mild winter climate allows for cool, pleasant days outside, and the boulders in Buttermilk Country present some of the best and most interesting problems in the state. The jutting peaks of the Sierra as the backdrop don’t hurt either!

I explored downtown, differently.

Bishop has an easily walkable downtown with numerous independent shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, a brewery, a distillery, a climbing gym, and so much more (whew, have to catch my breath!). Truly though, the list could go on. This time, my friend and I explored on 2 wheels, courtesy of the Zagster bike share in downtown. There are 2 locations to rent from, making it even easier for travelers. We put ourselves on a bit of a mural tour around Bishop, and biked from building to building marveling at the local works.

I went somewhere totally unique.

Okay, I actually went to 2 unique places: a salt lake full of natural structures call “tufa”, and a historic town with private hot springs. Both places are within an hour drive of Bishop–easy to access, and totally worth the trip!

Benton Hot Springs

Whether you’re staying the night or just a couple of hours, a trip to Benton Hot Springs is bound to be rejuvenating and inspiring. This is also one of first hot springs I have visited where I could actually adjust the temperature of the water! The town of Benton is historic, and the highly photogenic cemetery on the hill above the hot springs is worthy of a short scramble.

Mono Lake

This massive, 70 square mile lake is saltier than the sea. It hosts millions of migratory birds every year who rely heavily on the special habitat in the Mono Lake basin. One of the reasons this lake is so unique are the “tufa” limestone formations on the lake’s edge, formations seemingly like stalagmites in a cave.

Why winter?

Why not? The winter weather in Bishop is totally pleasant, allowing for many outdoor activities that might otherwise be unavailable in other parts of the country. Another major perk of the off-season? Enjoy lower rates at hotels and rental car agencies, making for an all-around inexpensive vacation. It’s about time we rethought this whole “summer vacation” spiel… how about a “winter vacation”? Additionally, traveling to Bishop in the winter (and the rest of the year) is possible from all major nearby cities: Reno, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Though the travel time from each city is about 4 hours, all routes offer gorgeous views the whole way. For those travelers looking to book it straight to Bishop (don’t blame you!), the nearby Mammoth Airport offers daily flights.

This article was written in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

>> Click here to read this article in French
>> Click here to read this article in German
>> Click here to read this article in Chinese


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7 hours ago

Spring brings flowers, but also birds and festivals! The Owens Lake Bird Festival is always a wonderful event - we'll post more about it as we get closer but mark your calendars for April 26-28th.
Thanks, California High Sierra !It’s film festival time for both nature lovers & film buffs alike! Don’t miss out on the Owens Lake Bird Festival and the 5-day Mammoth Lakes Film Festival this #spring season. Click 👇 to learn more about these & other High Sierra spring festivals. #CAHighSierra Image appears courtesy: Visit Mammoth . . . Friends of the Inyo Mammoth Lakes, California Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
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Spring brings flowers, but also birds and festivals! The Owens Lake Bird Festival is always a wonderful event - well post more about it as we get closer but mark your calendars for April 26-28th. 
Thanks, California High Sierra !

4 days ago

Just another beautiful Bishop late winter day! ... See MoreSee Less


Comment on Facebook

One of our favorite places!

Just spent the night at Brown Town and enjoyed the view.

This is just beautiful! If only we could be there in person for the sounds and smells. Thanks for sharing.

Wish there was a way for us to share our Bishop pictures in comments.

Miss Bishop

Now if you can just bottle up the air with the amazing smell of Bishop and send it to me 🙂

Chem trails

Beautiful indeed!!!

Thanks so much. So pretty. <3

Wayde Eddy

Very nice! What trail is this?

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6 days ago

Information from Jessica Strickland and Trout Unlimited


Hello folks,
As many of you have heard, CDFW has been talking about simplifying their state trout regulations for the last couple of years. They’ve released their proposed changes, which are relatively significant. The chance to comment is in person at upcoming public meetings. This is very important if you have an opinion on their changes. Go to the following website to view the changes and for more information: CDFW website info page:

PUBLIC MEETING – EASTERN SIERRA - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 6-8 p.m. Talman Pavilion, Tricounty Fairgrounds, 1234 Fair St., Bishop
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 6-8 p.m. Redding Library Community Room, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 6-8 p.m. Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno
Saturday, April 6, 2019 Noon-2 p.m. Bass Pro Shops, 7777 Victoria Gardens Lane, Rancho Cucamonga
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6-8 p.m. Colonial Heights Library Community Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6-8 p.m. Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

IF YOU CANNOT MAKE THE MEETING CONTACT: Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

The biggest change being – all waters under Section 7 general regulations for the Sierra district have been replaced with the following simplified regulation, “Open year-round, 5 trout bag, 10 trout possession limit, no gear restrictions.” The obvious change here being unless otherwise specified - fishing is now open year around. They’ve also shifted seasons around for waters with special restrictions in the following way:

All Year
Closed to fishing all year
September 1 through November 30
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through the last day in February
October 1 through Friday preceding Memorial Day

They have also made some changes to special regulations – IE – Crowley, Upper Owens, Walker River, etc. I’ve went through and compared most the waters of the Eastern Sierra. Some notable changes: Crowley – they’ve extended the 5 fish no gear restriction season from July 31 to September 30. Upper Owens between Crowley and Benton Crossing Bridge– removed the monument and extended "no gear restriction" season to September 30, open all winter but with no take. Golden Trout Wilderness – removed gear restrictions. Rush Creek regulation added to protect fall spawn. This isn’t an exhaustive comparison, just some of the major Eastern Sierra waters.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Trout Unlimited staff will be in attendance at as many of these meetings as possible. Please pass this information along!

Jessica Strickland

California Inland Trout Program Director

Photo: Debra Varva
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Nathan Foth

When will these proposed changes take place?

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