If you’re outdoorsy like me, then Bishop, California is one of those fairytale destinations. You might be rock climbing in the morning and mountain biking by the afternoon. The trail options are limitless, and I bet that even the multi-generational locals won’t have enough time to explore everywhere. Though the town is a bit remote in the Eastern Sierra, there isn’t a dry time with so many shops and restaurants to explore, and fascinating historical and cultural sites to see.
A short walk from downtown, I wandered into the Owen’s Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center. In particular, I loved the intricate beadwork, but there were also many more artifacts and environmental collections on display. Departing the museum, I left with a better understanding and appreciation for the region’s roots.
Sip, shop and dine
Most hotels in Bishop are within walking distance of every resource a traveler might need: coffee, food, souvenirs, laundry, etc. I loved starting my morning with a fresh-roasted coffee from Black Sheep Coffee Roasters. From there, my routine would take me down the street to Spellbinder Books and Pupfish Cafe. In one building, I could thumb through books, shop from local artisans, and even get a heaping dose of avocado toast. For family gifts, I visited Nuts n Twigs—an earthy shop with wonderfully eclectic gifts.
Outside of Town
Admittedly, I’m a novice rock climber. Hence, staring up at Bishop’s big walls was a bit intimidating at first, but the community is welcoming and friendly. Fortunately, there are climbing routes around Bishop suited to every skill level. Exploring the Pine Creek area, we enjoyed the cool breeze that tore down the canyon, and couldn’t stop looking around at all the views. Of course, come the cooler months, Bishop becomes quite popular with the bouldering community, with the fire truck-sized boulders scattered throughout the valley.
Hiking through the ancients
“Keep in mind, most of the trees in this area are over 4,000 years old,” advised the Ranger at Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor’s Center.
The 4.5-mile hiking loop took me through some of most incredible, natural “sculptures” that I have ever seen. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest contains gnarled trees that have weathered and survived for thousands of years! Actually, just saying that statement out loud gives me the chills. Their branches twist and curl, and the bark emits hues of yellow, orange and red. Amazingly, no one was around, and the evening light cast a soft, lovely glow on the hillsides.
Mountain bikers: get ready to roll
Of course, there’s great riding in the Bishop area! On the Lower Rock Creek Trail, we came upon a few technical sections, but overall just fun, flowy singletrack. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll be sure to check out the Wagon Wheel Trail, where a historic track was cut into the slickrock. Mountain biking in this area just adds to the endless list of “fun things to do in Bishop”.
So, whether you decide to play in or outside of town, you’ll find heaps of entertaining opportunities. Planning to visit Bishop in the wintertime? Read up on our winter report of fun things to do in the Owens Valley.
This article was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks. All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.
**You can also read this article in German!