Welcome to the breathtaking Eastern Sierra Nevada region of California, a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Though famous for outdoor sports, the beauty of the Bishop region is available to all, hiking boots optional! We’ve compiled a list of scenic drives to help you marvel at mountain and valley views without setting foot on a trail. The Eastern Sierra is uniquely poised to offer gorgeous auto touring. A divided highway leads from Lone Pine to Bridgeport—a scenic byway that boasts little traffic and offers breathtaking views of mountains, sky, and high desert. This stretch of Highway 395 was voted in the nation’s top five scenic drives by USA Today and AAA. Owens Valley offers transcendent trips from stark desert lowlands to the lush vegetation, streams, and the lakes of the high country. Our prettiest drives feature alpine settings and dense pine forest, as well as remote open spaces. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, these scenic drives bring the boundless beauty of the Bishop region right to your window. Buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable journey!
Top tip: Keep an eye out for interpretive displays along the roadside, and visit roadsideheritage.org to download educational audio guides to enjoy during your drive. Check for road closures before embarking.
Bishop Creek Drainage:
Travel from dry valley to lush high country, reaching elevations above 9,000 feet. Access three gorgeous lakes with a Sierra backdrop. Follow W Line St./Hwy 168W 15 miles out of Bishop to a fork. To reach North Lake, take the W/R fork, and continue 3 miles on Hwy 168. Turn W/R on North Lake Rd., and continue 1.5 miles (North Lake Rd. is steep, single-lane, and partially unpaved). To reach Lake Sabrina, continue another mile on Hwy 168 past North Lake Rd.. To reach South Lake, follow the E/L fork (South Lake Rd.) for 7 miles. Allow 2 hours round-trip to visit all three lakes. Closed winter.
Pine Creek Canyon:
This pretty, remote Sierra canyon offers views of Wheeler Crest, a 7,000-foot granite escarpment, one of the most abrupt in the High Sierra. About 10 miles northwest of Bishop on Hwy 395, turn W/L on Pine Creek Rd. and drive 10.3 miles to road end at the base of the canyon, where a pack station and the Pine Creek Mine are located. Allow 1 hour round-trip from Bishop.
Lower Rock Creek Rd./Old Sherwin Grade Hwy:
The scenic route between Bishop and Mammoth. This historic, spectacular drive parallels Hwy 395 along an old wagon trail from the bottom of Sherwin Grade to Toms Place. Enjoy dramatic vistas of Owens Valley and some of the biggest Jeffrey pines in the Eastern Sierra. From Bishop, drive 10 miles north on Hwy 395, take Pine Creek exit to the west, and make an immediate right on Lower Rock Creek Rd.. Head north for 13 miles until you hit Hwy 395 at the top of Sherwin Grade. From Crowley, Take the Lower Rock Creek Rd. exit off Hwy 395, 1 mile south of Toms Place/16 miles south of Mammoth, and follow south to Hwy 395. Allow 1-hour round-trip. (See “Pine Creek Canyon” above for a half-hour extension).
Upper Rock Creek:
Wind through a canyon, enjoying fall colors, snowcapped peaks, and pretty vistas across Rock Creek Lake. The road ends at Mosquito Flat, one of the highest and most scenic trailheads in the Eastern Sierra. Travel 25 miles northwest from Bishop and 3 miles southeast from Crowley on Hwy 395, exit at Toms Place, and continue 10.7 miles on Rock Creek Rd. Allow 2 hours round-trip for Upper and Lower Rock Creek. Closed after East Fork campground in winter.
Benton/Crowley Lake Loop:
Witness wide-open spaces, minimal traffic, and panoramic views across Crowley Lake, with a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. Follow Hwy 6 north out of Bishop and continue 34 miles to Benton. Travel 7.2 miles east on Hwy 120, turn SW/L on Benton Crossing Rd., pass Crowley Lake, and return to Hwy 395 in 30.3 miles. Travel 33 miles south on Hwy 395 back to Bishop. Allow 2 hours round-trip.