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Ride the White Mountains on your motorcycle!

The Eastern Sierra is well known for its mountains and wonderful outdoor adventure activities. Many of these are human powered activities such as: hiking, climbing, cycling, kayaking, fishing, paragliding, skiing and … the list goes on.

There are also many exciting motor powered activities like auto touring, boating, motorcycling, and OHV driving. Then there are a few combination and animal powered activities which include horseback riding, mule pack trains, sail plane flying, water skiing and, … well, let’s just focus on one for now. Shall we?

Motorcycle riding!

Winter is a great time for a motorcycle ride in and around the Owens Valley. Situated on the eastern side of the valley is a range that rises over 10,000 feet above the valley floor – the magnificent White Mountains. It is a triangular fault-block straddling the eastern edge of California and western edge of Nevada extending about 60 miles. Its widest point at the southern end is about 20 miles wide and the northern end tapers to a point near Boundary Peak, Nevada’s state high point.

Of course the peaks and crests of this range are generally snow covered in winter and certain motorized travel at the higher elevations of the range is not possible at this time. But it does have an excellent and well-maintained paved road that transports travelers from California to Nevada all year long. Plus in the foothills and canyons lower down there are trails galore.

There’s no end of fun to be had on a motorcycle in and around the White Mountains.

SR168 at the Bristlecone rd junction

SR168 at the Bristlecone rd junction

Motorcycle Road Ride

California State Route 168

On a warm, sunny winter day in the Owens Valley, like we often have, one of the sweetest road rides is State Route 168 over the White Mountains.

SR168 was originally conceived as a Trans-Sierra highway to connect Fresno to Bishop, but construction over the rugged Sierra crest was deemed too difficult. Now two congressionally designated wilderness areas prevent motor vehicle passage and the road is separated by the Sierra Nevada into a western section and an eastern section.

The western portion of the road, 70 miles long, has its western terminus at Lake Sabrina (at 9,128’ in elevation high up in the Sierra Nevada) and eastern terminus in Oasis, California (just a few miles from the Nevada state line in Fish Lake Valley). A short section between Lake Sabrina and Aspendell is closed for the winter season, but lower down between Aspendell and Bishop the road is open all year. Icy conditions are prevalent at the higher elevations so save this ride for the warmer months and during fall when the colors will excite you as much as the ride does!

In Bishop SR168 turns south and joins US Highway 395 to run concurrently for 14 miles to just north of Big Pine where it leaves Highway 395 to head east. It snakes over the White Mountains to Oasis, California and this where the real motorcycle fun is to be had.

Westgard Pass

Westgard Pass

From the junction at Highway 395 just north of Big Pine, SR168 sets out across the valley crossing the Owens River for a 14-mile twisting, turning climb up into the White Mountains to Westgard Pass. Beyond the pass the road bends and curves for 5 miles as it descends toward Deep Springs and then stretches out across the Deep Springs valley for 10 miles. Another climb through the White Mountains for a further 8 miles will deliver you into Oasis, CA.

This is a truly magnificent ride on a nimble sportbike, tourer, dual sport or cruiser. The road surface is excellent and the curves will keep your mind focused and your adrenalin flowing.

If the day is chilly or your time is limited go for a quick out-and-back. Choose a turn around spot at random then head back down and cruise into Bishop for a beer at the Mountain Rambler Brewery.

Deep Springs Valley

Deep Springs Valley

With good temperatures and plenty of daylight it is an excellent half- to full-day ride. Loop around the White Mountains, into Nevada on SR264 through Dyer, NV, and return to Bishop on US Highway 6. This loop is 152 miles long and at average cruising speeds takes about 3 hours. However, there may be some slow going and you may (make that definitely) want to stop to admire scenery and take photos. Extend this ride to a full day with a picnic or stop for coffee and snacks at the roadside café in Dyer.

My magic weekend getaway with this ride as the centerpiece of an Eastern Sierra motorcycle adventure begins and/or ends at Benton Hot Springs Inn and Campground. This beautiful little resort has a lovely campground and each campsite has its very own personal hot tub.

The weekend begins in the company of good friends on a Friday evening with a BBQ and hot soak. Saturday morning starts with a hearty breakfast and another hot soak … warming up those riding muscles. Gear goes on, bike gets started and then its ride time! Many hours later we’ll cruise back into our campsite and … you guessed it … hop in the tub for another hot soak. Dinner with a good bottle of wine shared under a most magnificent canopy of stars ends a perfect day. Heading home on Sunday after a lazy breakfast and one last dip in the hot, soothing waters I am relaxed and rejuvenated.

Be aware that after a winter snowstorm there can be icy patches on the road in shaded areas higher up and the cinders used for traction can be rather disconcerting on a motorcycle. It’s always prudent to check road conditions with CalTrans and at our own Bishop Visitor Center.

Ready to ride? Come ride State Route 168 it’s an adventure every time.

Dirt Bike Motorcycle Ride

Poleta Open Area

At the base of the White Mountains, 5 miles from the center of Bishop, is an exceptional off-road motorcycling area. Covering 2,500 acres, the Poleta Open Area is part of an extensive network of over 2,200 miles of OHV trails and roads leading though almost one million acres of the Inyo National Forest.

Most of this larger network comprises double track native surface road, but here on the eastern side of the Owens Valley about 50 miles consists of single-track and ATV trails interspersed within the system. All vehicles are required to stay on designated roads … except for the Poleta Open Area, which is designated for cross-country and open motorized vehicle travel.

Managed jointly by the Bishop area Forest Service and BLM authorities this open area with its excellent network of trails is linked to the bigger network making the opportunities for dirt bike riding seem almost endless.

The area provides for a wide variety of ATV riding including motorcycles, dune buggies, jeeps and SUVs. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced technical single-track trails as well as 4-wheeled driving routes.

Excellent maps have been produced by the California Trail Users Coalition and are available free of charge at many of the trailheads and, of course, the Bishop Visitor Center.

Please obey posted signage and make sure that all OHVs have a California green or red sticker or be street legal. All vehicles must be equipped with a Forest Service approved spark arrester. Tread Lightly! has an informative guide to responsible dirt biking.

Bring Your Motorcycle to Bishop

Whatever you ride and whenever you have the time to get out into our big backyard you will find so much here to thrill you. There are mountain roads and desert tracks with a variety of surfaces. Whether you’re looking to clear your head and blow out the stress or challenge your body and sharpen your skills take a motorcycle ride in the Eastern Sierra.

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7 days ago

We are buried in smoke again today, so we thought it would be fun to share a little about how the names of some of the towns in the Eastern Sierra came about. Thank you, California High Sierra for the article!
californiahighsierra.com/trips/california-high-sierra-towns-the-origin-of-their-names/
Photo by Amy Leist
... See MoreSee Less

We are buried in smoke again today, so we thought it would be fun to share a little about how the names of some of the towns in the Eastern Sierra came about. Thank you, California High Sierra for the article!
https://californiahighsierra.com/trips/california-high-sierra-towns-the-origin-of-their-names/
Photo by Amy Leist

Comment on Facebook

Wow... been a good long while since I’ve been to Bishop. Their high school team was in our league (I went to Tehachapi High) and we traveled there for some football games — something like a 5-6 hour drive each way if I recall correctly. A tough team to beat also. I’m betting it hasn’t changed all that much over all these years (circa late ‘60s).

I'm so sorry the smoke is bad there still. I missed my annual visit this year. It's on my to do list for next year.

We can see it over the Spring Mountains to the West/NW here in Las Vegas. Fortunately, not much of it made it into the LV valley.

Would LOVE to move there if my hubby can find a job nearby!

We left this morning. Not only is it very smokey the smell of smoke is incredible. I don't smoke and I was ready to light up.

Nice photo. That's the real West.

Miss Bishop, Lone Pine, Big Pine, Tinnamaha campground!!!!

No, that is where the theater and Joseph’s used to be. Joseph’s has been gone for some time now. Penny’s is now Dollar General. Unfortunately a lot of vacant stores. Hi Kent!❤️

Hello and good morning. I am planning to drive up to Bishop from Southern California. The main purpose is to see fall colors. May I know if the fall colors are still at peak this coming next two weeks or is it past peak? Thank you for your advice/suggestions.

We were just there.😔

We have to leave too, I almost threw up it was so bad, got to Lee Vining and blue fresh air..take care of yourselves

so sorry for the smoke crazy time for all this year.

I spent a week here and didn't get to see the beauty through the smoke 😏

When was this picture taken, Sunday at 6 am ? never seen it this quiet.

Awesome pic! I wish a Main Street business had a rooftop deck so you can eat with that exact same view!

No smoke in the photo. ??

Is this an old photo? Joseph’s market was the only market back when we lived in Bishop in 1969.

It’s still Smokey? Where is the smoke coming from ?

Beautiful town

I always love to go threw Bishop.

Went thru Bishop yesterday, it was terribly Smokey 😪💚

I wish it was still small !

Does bishop still have a jack in the box

My favorite place ❤️

Isnt that the Old JC Penney store?

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1 week ago

Wonder if this little sheep was as grateful as we were for a view of the mountains this morning??!! Happy Friday! From Bishop, with love ❤️
#keepbishopsafe #mttom
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Wonder if this little sheep was as grateful as we were for a view of the mountains this morning??!! Happy Friday! From Bishop, with love ❤️
#keepbishopsafe #mttom

Comment on Facebook

Wonderful vacation destination

And a free thinker! This is Good!

🙏praying that it stays like this 💖

I miss Bishop so much and living there too 😢😉❤️

This is one of my favorite places to take pictures when I lived in Bishop. There’s many more.

Sigh. Bishop. Love it.

See you next week little sheep

We loved our visit to Bishop

Miss bishop fun times there

Nice!!!

Oh how I love that view

It was beautiful

Love Bishop

👍

Need snow on them things!

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2 weeks ago

In case you are wondering what roads and campgrounds are open, here is the latest, as of yesterday, October 14th:
www.sierrawave.net/state-of-inyo-roads-and-campgrounds-whats-open-closed-oct-14
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In case you are wondering what roads and campgrounds are open, here is the latest, as of yesterday, October 14th:
https://www.sierrawave.net/state-of-inyo-roads-and-campgrounds-whats-open-closed-oct-14

Comment on Facebook

I've been on that same road every year at this time...

It sure was smoky today.

Still hazy there.😥

I love the West.

Beautiful picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

We always used to stay at Brown’s Millpond Campground just north of Bishop. Very nice private campground with a stream running through it. So many wonderful memories from Mule Days!

Up her for 4 day little smoke but really nice trees turning colors

It's the hunting and fishing Road 🏞️🎣🏕️🌌🤠🥰

Love Bishop and the surrounding mountains !!!

Hwy 168 going to Lake Sabrina, North and South lakes?

With I was there.

maybe next weekend any hotel suggestions?

Johanna Atwell

GOD HOW I WISH I WAS ON THAT ROAD... CAREFREE HIWAY...

Lots of nice smoke.....

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2 weeks ago

The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance is hosting a virtual 5K walk and fun run this year!!! Going on NOW!! You can do it from WHEREVER you are!!!Hello Friends!☺️
💥 ESCA 20th Annual 5K Walk & Fun Run! 💥October 11-17th! Virtual Edition!
Please LIKE and SHARE this flyer with your friends and family!
Thank you for your continued support! ☺️
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The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance is hosting a virtual 5K walk and fun run this year!!! Going on NOW!! You can do it from WHEREVER you are!!!

2 weeks ago

Dog days of summer or fall??!!
Last weekend we had warm temps and blue skies again. Fingers crossed we get some more blue skies this weekend!

Photo by Amanda Zhang
#NorthLake #fallcolors #keepbishopsafe
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Dog days of summer or fall??!! 
Last weekend we had warm temps and blue skies again. Fingers crossed we get some more blue skies this weekend!

Photo by Amanda Zhang
#NorthLake #fallcolors #keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

I heard the colors have peaked in this area. Is it still worth visiting or are there other good spots to hit up?

Beautiful picture.

Wonderful vacation destination

Beautiful

Beautiful picture! Cute dog!

North Lake?

Looking good

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