You could call this part of the Golden State the land of E.S.T. Meaning you’ll find the highest, the lowest, the largest, the sunniest, the oldest, the snowiest, the longest and many other “-ests” within a short drive from the town of Bishop. Getting here is easy. Most days are sunny but, with such a big landscape, there are many micro-climates. It can be sunny and warm in town but snow-covered and cold up high. Without a plan, you could end up being miserable and not seeing what you wanted to see. If you’re just arriving in town or it’s your first time exploring our big backyard, we suggest stopping by the Bishop Visitor to get the latest scoop on what there’s to see and do before venturing out.
Not All Mountain Passes Are Alike
For visitors attempting to traverse the mighty Sierra, be aware that many of the mountain passes (including those from Yosemite National Park) are closed from the 1st snowfall until the snow melts. This means many of the passes may not open until June or even July. This includes:
- Monitor Pass, CA 89
- Ebbetts Pass, CA 4
- Sonora Pass, CA 108
- Tioga Pass, CA 120 (Yosemite)
- Minaret Summit, CA 203 (Mammoth/Devils Postpile)
- Sherman Pass, Sherman Pass Road
- Westguard Pass, CA 168 (Bristlecone Pine Forest / Las Vegas)
It may look “open” from Bishop, but it’s a good idea to check in to confirm that the pass is open before you spend hours driving and realize you need to turn around.
Once here, one of the most exciting things about Bishop for everyone to do is to go auto-touring. You get a fun adventure, take in scenery, and even learn a little about the history of the region. Along with that, many of these route’s feature paved, graded, and four-wheel drive terrain. After big winters or even a random summer thunderstorm, they can become damaged or washed out. To ensure your route is ready for adventure, the knowledgeable staff at the Visitor Center can provide that info easily and quickly.
Each season provides natural phenomenon that are worth a trip to Bishop and its big backyard. Spring is about the wildflowers. Early summer is when the waterfalls are roaring. And then fall is all about the foliage. Even winter has its bouldering. Each of these can last for months but the timing and location knowledge are crucial.
The internet may provide a lot of information at your fingertips, but there’s still nothing that can beat local knowledge of what’s happening NOW. Maximize your time of fun, reduce your risk, and even get a taste of Bishop’s culture by making a stop by the Visitor Center first. You won’t regret it.