18 Amazing Things To Do In Bishop, California 2024

Bishop is located in Inyo County in Eastern California, about three hours north of Los Angeles. Surrounded by mountain ranges, stunning lakes, and vast open spaces, this High Sierra town has become a mecca for outdoor recreation. Table of Contents Show 1 Best Things To Do In Bishop 2 1. Stroll Through Charming Downtown Bishop…

Amazing Things To Do In Bishop, California

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Bishop is located in Inyo County in Eastern California, about three hours north of Los Angeles. Surrounded by mountain ranges, stunning lakes, and vast open spaces, this High Sierra town has become a mecca for outdoor recreation.

From rock climbing at the iconic Buttermilks to soaking in mineral hot springs, you’ll never run out of things to do in Bishop, CA. The best part? Bishop offers a charming small-town atmosphere, with locally-owned shops, cafes, galleries, and museums.

This article will highlight 18 fantastic attractions and activities to make the most out of your Bishop trip. We’ll cover everything from scenic drives through the area’s striking landscapes to fishing, hiking, and even visiting a historical railroad museum.

And whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with a family, you’ll find plenty of adventures to fill your itinerary. So keep reading to start planning your Bishop getaway!

Best Things To Do In Bishop

1. Stroll Through Charming Downtown Bishop

Downtown Bishop

Get to know Bishop by taking a leisurely stroll through the charming downtown district along Main Street. Along the way, you’ll discover locally-owned cafes, one-of-a-kind shops selling gifts and gear, and even some fantastic street art.

Be sure to stop inside East Side Bake Shop to try their melt-in-your-mouth cookies or grab an iced latte at Black Sheep Coffee Roasters on your walk.their cold brews are out of this world. You can also browse the titles at Spellbinder Books or pick up some Bishop-themed souvenirs to bring home.

Location: 690 N Main St, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Varies by shop. Many open daily from 9am-5pm.

Price: Free to stroll & browse

2. Go Bouldering at Buttermilk Country

Buttermilk Country

Even if you’ve never tried rock climbing, you have to visit the iconic Buttermilk Boulders. This world-famous bouldering area lies just west of Bishop and features over 2,000 problems along the base of the Sierra Nevada.

While advanced climbers test themselves on the legendary problems of Buttermilk Country, beginners can practice on easier terrain or simply enjoy a scenic walk among the mammoth rocks.

Pack a picnic lunch, bring your camera for sunset shots, and watch in awe as climbers spider their way up these marble-like boulders.


Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders


Location: Buttermilk Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Price: Free

3. Marvel at the Volcanic Tablelands

Volcanic Tablelands

Formed through volcanism, the Volcanic Tablelands showcase some of the most rugged, remote landscapes of Inyo National Forest. Mammoth outcroppings rise above the arid plateau surrounding the Owens River.

Visitors can explore dirt roads by 4WD, discover Native American pictographs, or climb iconic rocks like the Happy & Sad Boulders. Well-known as technical climbing terrain, the Volcanic Tablelands also pleases hikers, birders, geologists, and photographers.

Beat the summer heat (and avoid fall hunting seasons) by focusing your visit between late September to May. Be prepared with high-clearance vehicles, extra fuel, food, and water when venturing into the backcountry.

Location: U.S. Highway 395, 9 miles north of Bishop, CA

Hours: Always open

Price: Free to explore

4. Camp & Fish Along Bishop Creek Canyon

 Bishop Creek Canyon

Enjoy sky-blue alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and countless trails along Bishop Creek Canyon, located in the heart of the Inyo National Forest.

Here you’ll discover epic fishing, hiking terrain, cascading waterfalls, peaks rising to over 13,000 feet, and even ancient bristlecone pines. Bring your sense of adventure!

Visitors can camp alongside the creek at Mountain Glen Campground or near the shores of Lake Sabrina. Stop by Creekside RV Park & Campground for tent sites and full RV hookups.

Check current fishing regulations at the Bishop Visitor Center, then try your hand catching trophy-sized rainbow, brown, and brook trout in South Lake, North Lake, Lake Sabrina, or Intake II pond.

Location: CA-168 West, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open

Price: $$-$$$ per night for camping, California fishing license required

5. Take Intimate Photos At North Lake

North Lake

One of the lesser-visited lakes in the Bishop Creek watershed, North Lake rewards intrepid travelers with stunning high-altitude scenery for photography, fishing, and hiking.

The final 3-mile stretch of road ascends 1,500 feet to reach the lakeshore at 9,300 feet, with occasional rocky and narrow sections. While no services exist at the lake, the peaceful setting and chance to spot wildlife make it a perfect side trip.

Bring your camera to capture North Lake backed by Bishop Peak or framed by willows turning vibrant gold in autumn. Serious shutterbugs can continue along the Piute Pass trail to ascend even higher.

Location: North Lake Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open.

Price: Free

6. Relax At Intake II Pond

Intake II Pond

One of four lakes scattered along Bishop Creek Canyon, Intake II makes an easy scenic stop right off CA-168, offering fishing and photography without steep hikes.

Its calm sapphire waters reflect the surrounding pine forests and White Mountains bordering Nevada. Locals love this peaceful spot for picnics, wildlife viewing, and fall color.

Pack your fishing rod to catch stocked rainbow trout or bring lunch to dine lakeside. Just look for the Intake II Campground entrance on the right side of the highway.

Location: CA-168, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open

Price: Free

7. Marvel At Turquoise Lake Sabrina

Turquoise Lake Sabrina

One of the most postcard-perfect lakes in all the Sierra resides right in Bishop Creek Canyon. Boasting unbelievable turquoise waters backed by rocky peaks, Lake Sabrina offers boating, fishing, hiking, and photography all in one stunning setting.

Newbies can meander through historic log cabins at the Lake Sabrina Boat Landing before renting kayaks, rowboats, stand-up paddleboards or taking scenic pontoon cruises to explore the lake’s islands and inlets.

More ambitious travelers can tackle the 6-mile roundtrip hike to azure Blue Lake or embark on backpacking trips to the alpine George, Baboon, and Seven Gables lakes nearby.

Location: Lake Sabrina Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open

Price: $$ for boat & kayak rentals

8. Snap Photos At Colorful South Lake

Colorful South Lake

Its vibrant blue waters ringed by meadows of wildflowers make South Lake one of the most scenic draws of Bishop Creek Canyon. The relatively flat and short hike around the lake gives visitors stellar views of the surrounding Sierra high country.

Serious photographers will want to capture South Lake backed by the towering Mount Tom (13,652 feet) then drive further up South Lake Road for vista points over Owens Valley nearly two vertical miles below.

Anglers also flock to the well-stocked lake to reel in hungry brook, rainbow, and brown trout. Or rent boats, kayaks, and paddle boards from South Lake Landing to explore on your own.

Location: 24 South Lake Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open

Price: Free, $$ for rentals

9. View Ancient Trees At Schulman Grove

Schulman Grove

Home to some of the world’s oldest living organisms, the Schulman Grove in the White Mountains transports visitors back thousands of years through its twisted bristlecone pines.

These gnarly trees have withstood extreme winds, fires, lightning, and drought over millennia to achieve biblical ages between 3,000-4,800 years! The Patriarch Tree here stands over 40 feet high and 17 feet around.

Stop first at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center to learn about the trees’ unusual longevity at this elevation. Then drive up to Schulman Grove to walk through this hidden forest of ancient ones and take plenty of photos.

Location: White Mountain Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Schulman Grove open late May-October

Price: $6 per vehicle

10. Photograph The Steamy Keough Hot Springs

Steamy Keough Hot Springs

After long days hiking and climbing, relax muscle aches away by soaking in these rejuvenating mineral pools near Bishop.

Keough Hot Springs has offered weary travelers its restorative waters since 1919. Nestled south of town, visitors can unwind year-round in two outdoor hot spring pools, with temperatures maintained at 102°F-104°F.

The smaller 8-person pool stays the hottest while the larger one ranges between 98°-104°F. Changing rooms, public restrooms, and showers let you freshen up before or after your soak.

Entry fees vary by age, with discounts for kids, seniors, students, and military. After your mineral therapy, grab food nearby at the family-friendly Walker Burger or Mamas Kitchen.

Location: 800 Keough Hot Springs Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: 11am-6pm daily

Price: $-$$ per person

11. Four-Wheel-Drive Through Volcanic Tablelands

 Four-Wheel-Drive Through Volcanic Tablelands

Remote. Rugged. Untamed. The Volcanic Tablelands await off-road adventurers looking to explore Inyo National Forest’s raw backcountry.

Formed by ancient eruptions from the Long Valley Caldera, this high desert landscape remains largely unexplored beyond hunters and geologists.

Visitors can traverse miles of dirt roads through the habitat managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The bumpy roads crisscross volcanic craters, cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and panoramic viewpoints of the Sierra.

High-clearance 4WD vehicles perform best, especially after storms or snowmelt. Bring spare tires and recovery gear too in case you get stuck. Off-road trails here are unmaintained and unsigned, so come prepared with maps, supplies, and self-rescue basics.

Location: 10 miles west of Hwy 395 via West Line St, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: Always open

Price: Free, 4WD vehicle required

12. Visit Historic Laws Railroad Museum

Visit Historic Laws Railroad Museum

All aboard for a family-friendly history lesson on the Old West railroads at Laws Railroad Museum near Bishop!

Wander restored 19th-century buildings relocated here to recreate a frontier-era railroad town, complete with trackside structures from the Carson & Colorado Railway.

See bishop’s past come alive through relics like a 1901 Baldwin steam locomotive, cabooses from 1903-1938, track maintenance cars, and even a vintage rail diesel car from 1950. Kids and trains fans will delight at all there is to discover!

Friendly docents will guide your self-tour of the 11-acre site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Picnic tables make this a great lunch stop before returning to Bishop.

Location: 200 Silver Canyon Rd, Laws, CA 93501

Hours: 10am-4pm daily, mid-May–mid-October

Price: Free

13. Shop Handicrafts At Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Center

 Shop Handicrafts At Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Center

Honor Native cultures by visiting Bishop’s Museum and Cultural Center, managed by the local Paiute-Shoshone tribes.

See artifacts, tools, clothing and exhibits on the First Peoples tied spiritually to the local mountains, lakes, plants, and animals here for over 1,000 generations. Guests can also shop authentic handicrafts.

Browse original artworks, quilts, and beadwork for unique Bishop keepsakes. Sales directly support the indigenous artists, with all proceeds staying in the Owens Valley.

Friendly staff provide guided tours on request to explain artifacts detailing how natives traditionally hunted, cooked, healed, and lived in harmony with nature through songs, stories, and celebrations.

Location: 2300 W Line St, Bishop, CA 93514

Hours: 10 am-4 pm Tuesday–Saturday

Price: Free entry; handicraft prices vary

14. Stargaze At Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Far from city lights and high atop the White Mountains, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest becomes one of California’s premier places to stargaze and photograph the Milky Way.

Where else can you stand beneath some of Earth’s oldest trees while looking into the deepest reaches of the universe? Nighttime visitors may spot meteors, planets like Mars and Saturn, and silver clouds of stars and space dust.

Arrive early to catch the sunset, then watch the sky shift dramatically as day fades to night here at 10,000 feet. Bring warm layers, headlamps, camping chairs, snacks, and photography gear to make the most of this astronomer’s paradise!

Location: Schulman Grove Rd, Big Pine, CA 93513

Hours: Schulman Grove open 5am-10pm daily May-October

Price: $6 per vehicle for night entry

15. Photograph The Crowley Columns

The Crowley Columns

There are thousands of stone columns resembling organ pipes, which are stranded on high desert shores, offering photographers unique landscapes unlike anywhere else on Earth.

When volcanic Long Valley erupted eons ago, ash and hot gases encased decomposing plant material to fossilize into these columns over hundreds of millennia. Forces of water, ice and wind sculpted the Poole columns into eccentric or slender shapes.

The primitive access road reaching these formations demands 4WD and intermediate off-roading skills. Stay right to bypass a treacherous section but expect bumpy, rocky terrain with some washouts. Begin your trip with full fuel and water tanks plus recovery gear if traveling solo.

Location: East of Tom’s Place via Whitmore Tubs Rd southeast of Hwy 395/203 junction

Hours: Accessible when lake levels low enough; check at local fishing shops

Price: Free; 4WD vehicle recommended

16. Fish & Photograph Little Lakes Valley

 Fish & Photograph Little Lakes Valley

Alpine lakes shimmer below the craggy Sierra high country along the gentle hike to Little Lakes Valley, rewarding hikers with wildflower-filled meadows, diverse wildlife, and glistening trout.

Though only a few miles long, plan for half a day to soak up the scenery, snap photos, try catching your dinner, and simply savor this intimate corner of the John Muir Wilderness.

Anglers toss lures and flies into Mumford, Upper Crater, Box, and Long Lake teeming with hungry brookies and rainbows. Always walk carefully along their fragile shores. Bear right at trail junctions to complete a scenic loop hike.

Location: Rock Creek Rd near Mosquito Flat trailhead

Hours: Summer hiking season

Price: Free

17. Paddle Across Azure Convict Lake

Paddle Across Azure Convict Lake

With panoramas fit for dedicating to Ansel Adams, Convict Lake resides as the crown jewel of the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Visitors adore the mile-long lake for its namesake vibrant turquoise hue backing the jagged Mount Morrison (12,268 feet).

Rent kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and fishing boats from Convict Lake Resort to explore hidden coves along forested shores. Or hike the gentle trail around the lake to photograph fauna like black bears, bighorn sheep and over 200 species of birds that flock here.

Afterwards, recharge on CAL burgers and handmade milkshakes at the resort’s cafe overlooking this natural gem listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Location: Convict Lake Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Hours: Always open

Price: Free, $ for rentals & resort dining

18. Taste Your Way Through Downtown Bishop

Taste Your Way Through Downtown Bishop

Between adventures outdoors, be sure to fuel up on farm-fresh meals in charming Bishop. For breakfast, start your day with fluffy pancakes or loaded scramble bowls at the Country Kitchen Cafe. The family-owned East Side Bake Shop sells beyond delicious cookies, turnovers and cinnamon rolls.

For lunch, stuff yourself on tri-tip and French dip sandwiches piled sky-high at Erik Schat’s Bakery. Vegetarians love the superfood bowls, kale salads, and ancient grain toast at Great Basin Bakery. And everyone craves the burgers and garlic fries from critically-acclaimed Whiskey Creek Restaurant.

Location: Downtown Bishop along North & South Main Streets

Hours: Vary by restaurant

Price: $-$$ per meal

Places To Stay In Bishop, California

Bishop offers a great variety of lodging options to suit different budgets and travel styles. Here is a comparison of top-rated accommodations, from convenient motels to luxurious mountain resorts:

Trees MotelDowntown Bishop$Friendly updated rooms
Heated pool & hot tub
Walking distance to restaurants
Bristlecone MotelNear downtown$$Spacious kitchenette rooms
Tranquil creekside setting
Fire pit & barbecue patio
Bishop Creek LodgeBishop Creek Canyon$$Creekside cabins with porches
Great basecamp to access hiking trails & fishing
Four Seasons LodgeWest Bishop$$$Luxurious suites with jetted tubs & fireplaces
Outdoor heated pool
5 min drive to town
Lake Sabrina Boat LandingLake Sabrina$$$Lakefront cabins & chalets
Boating, kayaking rentals
Cafe with scenic views

Getting To Bishop, California

Getting To Bishop, California

Bishop sits at the northern end of the Owens Valley in Inyo County, about 3 hours’ drive north of Los Angeles on U.S. Route 395. Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada, White Mountains and Inyo Mountains, its natural landscapes attract outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

The two closest commercial airports are Mono County Airport serving Mammoth Lakes (1 hour north of Bishop) and Inyokern Airport near Ridgecrest (1.5 hours south). Rental cars and regional shuttles connect visitors to Bishop.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) lies 300 miles south of Bishop. Most visitors rent a car and drive, allowing time to stop at attractions like Death Valley National Park en route. Several shuttle companies also offer private and shared van rides from LAX and Las Vegas to the Eastern Sierra region.

Getting Around Bishop

While having your own car makes accessing trailheads most convenient, Bishop does have limited local transit and taxi service primarily catering to hikers and climbers.

Eastern Sierra Transit offers buses connecting Bishop with Mammoth Lakes, Lone Pine, Ridgecrest and other mountain towns on weekdays. The Eastern Sierra Shuttle also transports backpackers to trailheads like North Lake, South Lake, Pine Creek Pass and Onion Valley/Mount Whitney.

Within Bishop city limits, the town is very walkable and bikeable especially the downtown district along Main Street. Many hotels provide guests with complimentary bicycles to cruise around town.

Local taxi service like Chronos Cab and Mammoth Taxi can shuttle you to destinations within about 10 miles for around $10-15 per trip.

The Best Times To Visit Bishop, California

Thanks to its high desert climate, Bishop offers moderate weather for hiking, fishing and exploring most of the year apart from major snowstorms. Each season has its own charm around this Sierra adventure hub.

Spring welcomes warmer weather perfect for waterfall chasing, wildflower walks, photography and bouldering up to late May. High-elevation trails remain snowbound into early summer.

Summer is Bishop’s most popular season, with long sunny days for scenic drives through mountain vistas, paddling Eastern Sierra lakes, and climbing the iconic Buttermilks and Volcanic Tablelands until September.

Fall brings vibrant foliage starting in October to Bishop Creek Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon and the Ancient Bristlecones, making it the best season for leaf peeping. Days start cooling by mid-October.

Winter outdoor adventures shift to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and winter camping, when accessible. Holiday travelers enjoy the small town vibes in December before heavy snows into April limit exploration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bishop worth visiting?

Definitely! Bishop makes an excellent basecamp for countless outdoor activities year-round, from rock climbing to skiing. Beyond adventures, the charming small town also offers fantastic dining options.

What is Bishop best known for?

Bishop is synonymous with world-class bouldering at the Buttermilks climbing area. The town lies adjacent to the Eastern Sierra’s steep granite terrain that draws climbers from across the globe.

What is there to do in Bishop when it rains?

On rainy days in Bishop, duck into one of the independent bookstores and coffee shops downtown. You can also visit the historic Laws Railroad Museum or Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center and Museum to learn about native history. Indoor climbing at Bishop Gym is another popular rainy day option.

Does it snow in Bishop?

Yes, plentiful snowfall hits Bishop on and off between November to April, with January typically being the snowiest month. Snowstorms sometimes close mountain roads for safety due to ice and low visibility.

How’s the fishing in Bishop?

The fishing in Bishop is consistently rated excellent thanks to the year-round stocking of trout in the streams, rivers and alpine lakes around the area. Bishop Creek Canyon offers particularly bountiful catches for anglers.

Start Planning Your Bishop Adventure!

With its charming small-town vibe and endless Sierra Nevada adventures, Bishop offers the perfect Californian mountain getaway. Whether you love climbing up boulders or soaking in natural hot springs, Bishop has an amazing itinerary for you.

Use this guide to start mapping out your own dream trip filled with scenic drives, alpine hikes, lakefront retreats, farm-to-table dining and more. From Los Angeles, this Eastern Sierra hub makes an easy yet unforgettable weekend escape.

When are you headed to Bishop? Tag us @travelcrog on Instagram and share your own tips or questions in planning your adventures there!

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