Bishop, California is a friendly town nestled in between two majestic mountain ranges, the iconic Sierra Nevada mountains to the West, and the White Mountains to the East. This unusual geographic location make Bishop incredibly special and during your stay here you will enjoy stunning, world-renown scenery, unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities, and a lively rural culture.
Top 3 Friendliest Towns in the Sierra Nevada
“The sleepy mountain town of Bishop, with its “big backyard” of outdoors in Owens Valley, will charm your socks off with enchanting vistas during all your outdoor plans. It hosts a good amount of family-friendly attractions, including museums like the 11-acre Laws Railroad Museum for the steam engine and history lovers to discover the unique 1883 train depot, among other sights.” – World Atlas
Find Bishop at the intersection of US Route 6 along the Scenic Byway of US Highway 395 between Southern California and Reno. This breathtaking stretch of highway will surely introduce you to the stunning beauty that surrounds the area. If you are driving in from a major city, Bishop is about 4 hour’s drive North of Los Angeles, California, 4 hours South of Reno, Nevada, and 5 hours Northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.
If driving is not an option, regional transportation is provided by Eastern Sierra Transit service between Lancaster and Reno. The Eastern Sierra Airport here in Bishop provides commercial passenger airline flights and general aviation services. Visit our Air Service page for more information.
A Friendly, Home-Town Atmosphere
Bishop is a small town with great amenities and a terrific place to call “home” while exploring the Eastern Sierra. Lodging options are plentiful, with about 850 rooms ranging from luxurious beds to rustic cabins. Campgrounds in the Bishop Creek Area and closer to town are operated by USF, BLM, Inyo County and private owners are also abundant in the area.
To whet your appetite, you’ll find great restaurants to suit any taste. American fare features everything from fine dining and steaks to burgers and BBQ. International delicacies include Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines.
Spend a morning or afternoon strolling Main Street and its surrounding streets for unique retail shops and art galleries. Take a break in Bishop City Park which features several acres of beautifully maintained grass, shade trees, flowers and a picture-perfect duck pond—it’s a great place to picnic!
If you’re looking to dust off your clubs, the Bishop Country Club is a challenging 18-hole golf course with breathtaking views, plus a full-service pro shop, restaurant, and bar.
And if you’re feeling lucky, be sure to visit the Wanaaha Casino, just a few miles northwest of downtown on Highway 395.
Ancient geologic uplift created the dramatic mountain and valley environment which defines Bishop’s magnificent landscape. Easily seen from town, the nearby 14,000-foot peaks are often covered with snow, providing a beautiful contrast to the arid valley floor 10,000 feet below.
The mountains even create their own weather, and the famed Sierra Wave—a flying saucer-shaped lenticular cloud—can be seen high over the landscape.
Whether your visit is long or short, you cannot help but admire the dramatic peaks, and glorious sunrises and sunsets which are a magnet for photographers.
A playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, Bishop’s huge backyard offers just about anything to find your own brand of fun from world-class trout fishing to rock climbing, hiking to OHV touring, and wildlife viewing to horseback riding. Within minutes of travel, you can explore everything from the Valley floor to high alpine terrain. Your options are limited only by your imagination. Many people find that ironically, the more activities you check off your list, the larger your list becomes!
Flora and Fauna
Bishop lies in a valley that is around 4,000 feet in elevation and receives an average of 5 inches of rain a year. Classified as a high desert, plants and animals must adapt to the arid environment. Wildlife viewing in Bishop is rich and abundant and you can find Tule Elk and Mule Deer in the winter months, and in the Spring and Autumn skies witness a great migration. Birdwatching in any season is popular, and the hunting season in Fall and Winter draws many enthusiasts.
History and Culture
Bishop has a rich history and heritage. The town got its name from Samuel A. Bishop, one of the first white settlers of the area. A cattle rancher, Bishop brought his herds here in 1861 to provide beef to the mineworkers about 80 miles North.
Soon more settlers came and Bishop became a town—and soon enough got more attention than it wanted. In the early 1900s, the plentiful, clean water from the local mountains attracted City of Los Angeles officials who were looking to provide for their quickly growing and thirsty city. The complicated water rights and water wars that ensued both destroyed the Bishop and Owens Valley economies and ironically preserved much of the open landscapes of the Valley making Bishop a rural treasure.
Bishop is also home to the Bishop Paiute Tribe and the area was the original home to the indigenous Nuuwu and Neme people. Local petroglyphs are all that remains of these ancient ancestors of the Paiute Tribe.
Bishop has a rich history, look at some historical films similar to the one below.
Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
Bishop provides so much to make your vacation rewarding and memorable. Leave behind the urban sprawl, overcrowding and pollution and come enjoy pristine landscapes, adventures for days, and a small-town ambiance.
Whether you are in the area for just an hour, a day, or a week, stop by the Visitors Bureau on Main Street in the Bishop City Park to get tips and recommendations from our friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Bishop is located in the very middle of California, where Highways 6 and 395 intersect and also offers public transportation and shuttle options. Whether you’re traveling from Southern or Northern California, or a major city in Nevada, you'll drive 4 1/2 to 5 hours to reach Bishop. We hope you enjoy your journey!
At 4,150 ft (1,260 m) above sea level, the natural environment of Bishop changes quickly from the high desert sage and arid climate of the wide open Owens Valley floor to an alpine wonderland of pine forest, rushing streams and gorgeous deep-blue lakes surrounded by the mighty mountain peaks of the Eastern Sierra.
The "greater Bishop area," which includes unincorporated nearby neighborhoods such as West Bishop, Meadow Creek-Dixon Lane, Wilkerson Ranch, Rocking K, Mustang Mesa and Round Valley includes an additional 11,000 residents.
If you need to warm your back, Bishop is a welcomed retreat with much (much) warmer weather than Mammoth. With 5.18" average yearly precipitation and only 6 inches of snow, Bishop makes the perfect combo vacation - ski, golf, fish and bike year-round.