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Bishop, California

Updated on February 25, 2014

Bishop, California - Almost Paradise

Bishop, California is my favorite place on the planet. It's located at the north end of the Owens Valley between the Sierra and Inyo mountains, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Even though Bishop is a small town, there are lots of things to see and do. In fact, Bishop attracts tourists from around the world. Instead of boring you with all the statistical data you can find on Wikipedia or the marketing type of information you can get from the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, I'm going to talk about the things that make Bishop such a wonderful place. There are many cool things about Bishop that the average tourist probably doesn't know about, and I'd like to share them.

Growing Up In Bishop

An awesome place to raise a family...

My parents to Bishop in 1968. I was 4 years old so almost all my memories of growing up are centered on Bishop. It was only supposed to be a temporary move. My Dad worked for Caltrans, and "doing your time" in a small District (Caltrans District 9 is headquartered in Bishop) was considered a good career move. After living in Bishop for a few years though, my parents liked it so much they decided to make it their permanent home. I remember years later my Dad turning down a big promotion because it would have meant moving away from Bishop. I'm glad they decided to stay, because I cannot imaging a better place to go through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood than Bishop, California.

Seasons and Weather in Bishop

I love a town with 4 distinct seasons...

The weather in Bishop is fairly mild - winters aren't too cold and summers aren't too hot. There is enough variation throughout the year that Bishop does have 4 distinct seasons, though. Unlike some places, none of the seasons in Bishop are unbearable, but some are more enjoyable than others. Also, the seasons in Bishop don't follow the official dates.

Spring in Bishop runs from March through May and is my least favorite season. The days are still short and it's windy almost all the time (I hate wind because it interferes with my model airplane flying). Also, it's the one time of year in Bishop when there's not a lot of things to do. The highlight of Spring in Bishop is the last Saturday in April which is opening day of Fishing Season in the Owens Valley (except for the Owens River which is open all year). The other big Spring event in Bishop is Mule Days, which happens on Memorial Day weekend.

Summer in Bishop runs from June through August. When I was a kid in Bishop, summer was my favorite season. I'd spend all week playing with my friends, riding bikes, building and flying model airplanes and rockets, exploring the fields near our house, stringing home made CB antennas across the roof... well, you can kind of get the idea. On Saturdays my dad would take us fishing, and on Sundays we went to church, did our grocery shopping, then I would help my dad take the garbage to the dump. For the 4th of July, my friends and I would ride to the "res" and buy (illegal) firecrackers and bottle rockets. We would also celebrate at home with (legal) fireworks and sometimes go to the Volunteer Fire Dept. sponsored fireworks show at the airport.

Fall in Bishop runs from September through November. When I got older, it became my favorite season as my dad started taking me hunting. Also, the subjects in school got a lot more interesting as I got older, and I played basketball when I got to high school.

Winter in Bishop runs from December through February. The winters in Bishop are actually pretty mild, though it does get snow - maybe about twice a year. The first year we moved there was a record snowfall year. I remember the snow was above my head.

Water Wars

The fight between LA and the Owens Valley over water

We moved to Bishop at the height of the water war between the City of Los Angeles and the Owens Valley. Many people in Bishop at the time hated the City and its Dept. of Water and Power for pumping water out of the Owens Valley and sending it south to LA. I remember one year in the Mule Days parade there was a float that consisted of nothing more than a large billboard proclaiming "DWP SUCKS" in large letters with "Owens Valley Dry" in small letters. Local stores sold T-Shirts with an image of a man drinking a beer and urinating in the Aqueduct, with the slogan "Drink Up, LA Needs the Water." Occasionally someone would dynamite the Alabama Gates or one of DWP's ground water pumping stations.

This is still a controversial subject in the Bishop area, but at least people aren't bombing the aqueduct any more, and DWP has worked to restore a fishery along the lower Owens River. However one feels about the water issue, I'll say one thing for DWP. If they hadn't bought up all the land around Bishop (and the rest of the Owens Valley), the area could have turned into just another urban sprawl. In that sense, I am happy and grateful that they own most of the land around Bishop.

Want to Know More? - For more info on the water wars, take a look at this book

Did you know?

The movie China Town, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, uses the water war between L.A. and the Owens Valley as part of its plot line.

China Town on Amazon - Owen's Valley water wars on the silver screen

A Sense of Community

Small towns have a stronger sense of community than big cities

One of the things I liked best about growing up in Bishop was the strong sense of community.

Going to School in Bishop, California

I liked going to the same school as all the other kids

Elementary School

Middle School

High School

4-H Clubs in Bishop, California

Bishop has a very active 4-H community

One of my favorite things in Bishop was going to 4-H. I was in the Bristlecone 4-H Club, one of 3 4-H clubs in Bishop. Just the fact that a town as small as Bishop could host 3 different 4-H clubs gives you some idea about the kind of atmosphere that exists in small towns like Bishop.

Things to Do In Bishop, California - Small towns have more fun things to do than large cities

When I was growing up in Bishop, a common complaint was "there's nothing to do here." This was especially true in high school. Everyone wanted to get out of "boring" Bishop and go to the city where there was supposedly all sorts of wonderful things to do. Even today I find people have this misconception about small towns. Whenever I mention the idea of living in Bishop to my wife her response is "but there's nothing to do there." Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of things to do in Bishop, you just have to know where to look. Here is a small list of some of the things I used to enjoy while living in Bishop, things that are much more difficult to enjoy now that I live in a city.

  • Hunting Yes, I can still hunt where I live now, only I have to drive at least an hour instead of just taking a 5 minute walk up the street.
  • Fishing I can also fish in Reno, but again it involves much more than a 5 or 10 minute walk up the street. Also, all the close fishing spots in Reno are usually occupied by seemingly 2 million other people who want to kayak, swim, skip rocks, or otherwise ruin the fishing experience.
  • Hiking Bishop is surrounded by beautiful scenery with lots of really cool places to hike. If you like mountain scenery and lots of fall colors, you should check out Bishop Creek canyon or the Buttermilk area.
  • Cruising Main Unlike larger towns and cities, Bishop has a true Main Street running right through the middle of town. It's a little slow and maybe boring most of the time, but the Owens Valley Cruisers host a car show the first weekend in October, and I've heard the Indian community hosts an annual car show as well. Other occasions that make for fun cruising are Mule Days, Home Coming, and the Tri County Fair.
  • Local Culture
  • Tri County Fair
  • Flying Model Rockets I loved flying model rockets when I was growing up. My friends and I would ride our bikes to Black Top (off of Reata Road) to launch them or my parents would take my to the flying field on Ed Powers Road. A couple times we launched them out of our front yards - until our parents found out and put a stop to it.
  • Driving There are many beautiful places around Bishop to go for a drive. Some of my favorites are going up Bishop Creek Canyon, driving to June Lake, around the June Lake loop and back to Bishop. My absolute favorite though is driving what I call the Benton Loop. Take Highway 6 to Benton, cut across on Highway 168 to the junction with 395, then take 395 back to Bishop, stopping for lunch in Mammoth on the way. The scenery along 168 is incredible.
  • Rock Hounding
  • Just Plain Relaxing

Places to See in Bishop, California - There are lots of cool places to see in and around Bishop

There are lots of interesting places to visit while you're in Bishop. Some of them, like Schatt's Dutch Bakery or the Bristlecone Pine Forrest, are world famous. Others, like the East Line Street canal or the Tungsten City Hills are not so well known, and you may have never even heard of them unless you've spent quite a bit of time in Bishop. Here are some of my favorite places to see while visiting Bishop.

  • Tungsten City Hills
  • Flying Field
  • Laws Railroad Museum
  • The Ropes

Walking around Bishop, Calirornia

If nothing else, I always make time for a walk when I'm in Bishop

Laws Railroad Museum

Southern Pacific's Slim Princess

Businesses to Visit in Bishop, California - I visit these every chance I get

One of the nice things about living in a small town is the large number of locally owned businesses. There is just something, uhmmm, "neat" about seeing the owner of the grocery store stocking shelves and being able to talk with them. In Bishop, many owners of local businesses are avid supporters of the Junior Livestock Show and Auction that is held every year at the Tri County Fair Grounds. They also sell quality stuff. When you're in Bishop, be sure to stop by some of the local businesses. They are a treat you won't often find in a big city.

  • Schatt's Dutch Bakery
  • Meadow Farms
  • Mountain Light Gallery
  • Joseph's Bi-Rite Market
  • Manor Market

Meadow Farms

The best jerky in the known universe

Events to Attend in Bishop, California - Bishop has its fair share of cultural events

For such a small town, Bishop has more than its share of cultural events to attend. Some of them (Mule Days) attract tourists from all over the world. Others, like the Tri County Fair and Junior Livestock Auction, are geared mainly towards the locals. Some, like opening weekend of fishing season, are in between. All of them are fun though, and unique to Bishop. If you get a chance to check out some of these you won't be disappointed.

  • Mule Days The biggest event in Bishop each year is Mule Days. It runs every Memorial Day weekend. Mule Days draws over 700 mules competing in 181 different events. People from all over the world come to Bishop to celebrate Mule Days.
  • Tri County Fair
  • Junior Livestock Show and Sale
  • Opening of Fishing Season
  • Fall Color Classic

Notable Residents of Bishop, California - Maybe someone you've heard about has called Bishop home

  • Jill Kinmont Booth
  • Bill Evans
  • Galen and Barbara Rowell
  • Erick Schatt
  • Richard Eyer

Getting to Bishop, California

The drive to Bishop is half the fun

Bishop has no commercial air service, so the best way to get there is to drive. Bishop is located on U.S. Highway 395, about 266 miles north of Los Angeles and 200 miles south of Reno. If you don't live close enough to drive all the way to Bishop, your best bet is to fly into either Los Angeles or Reno and rent a car for the remainder of the trip to Bishop. The drive to Bishop from Los Angeles is mostly smooth and straight on a 4 lane divided highway, so it takes about the same amount of time as the drive from Reno even though it's about 65 miles longer. The highway between Reno and Bishop has lots of 2 lane sections and it goes through many towns. Just getting through Carson City adds about 30 minutes to the drive.

I have made both drives many times, and I think the drive from Reno to Bishop is much more enjoyable than the drive from Los Angeles. The scenery is beautiful, and if you're not in a hurry there are many interesting places to stop and look around. The drive from Los Angeles on the other hand is pretty boring. The scenery is mostly flat desert and there's not a whole lot to see.

Bishop, California on the Map - It's easy to find, about halfway between Reno and LA on U.S. 395

A markerBishop, CA -
Bishop, CA
get directions

Bishop California

63760/1953/2010/03/02/+1/-0/c3

Exploring the Sierras - The most beautiful country on earth...

 

Please Sign my Guestbook - Have you ever been to Bishop?

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    • profile image

      Darya 2 years ago

      Thank you, Glen, for posting so much valuable info about Bishop. I grew up in California and lived in the Bay Area, Southern Cal, and the Central Coast. I recently moved away, but I plan on coming back. When I do, I was thinking I would go back to the Central Coast because I love it there so much. It's agricultural and rural. But recently, I've been thinking a lot about Bishop, which is strange because I've never actually been there. But something about that area draws me to it. I love the idea of being between the mountains and the desert and having the full range of the four seasons. I've read lots of varied feedback about Bishop and almost all of it is good. I will certainly be giving it lots of thought when it comes time to move. Bishop will be on the top of my list of places to check out. Thanks again, Glen! I'll probably be revisiting your article a few times for info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      We are moving to Bishop next week, (Move from Wisconsin). Hope to get the warmer weather and a warm welcome! I'm a massage therapist specializing in Deep tissue and an Ancient Thai massage. Hope to have some clients who want to try alternative healing???

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes,we went there many times and now decided to move there! We love Bishop so much!! I'm a massage therapist. Just wondering that I will have some client there??

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 3 years ago from So Cal

      I've been there recently as we found missing family in Benton. My earliest memory of Bishop (1960's) was the Shell Gas Station that was missing the "S". I like Bishop but the two lane highway is ugly when you get behind someone who just won't get out of the way.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Was travelling to Vegas and stayed one day and night in Bishop, loved the town , quaint and sweet , nice shops, stopped at a family style restaurant , i think it was called Jack's , excellent food . There was also a really neat bakery . It was a Monday so they were advertising music in the park. Great Community

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Remember this, Kathy?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have lived here for almost 6 months. It is beautiful no doubt, but it is expensive and the job market is scarce.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, thanks for all the great info. I am 62 and was born in Bishop, though I have no recollection of it. We are looking for a place to retire. A guy from work retired there and says it is a great place to retire. What kind of hunting and fishing is in the area, as I am an outdoorsman. Thanks again, Russ

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks your nice n detailed introdusing about Bishop which place I want drive up from L.A.with my friends.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I've not been to Bishop but am familiar with the area as far south as Mammoth Lakes and it is all beautiful. I was raised on a ranch and most of my visits to populated areas were to small towns and I can appreciate small town life. Good article!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The pics I've seen of this town made me want to learn more. Seems like a great place to live if you're into hiking/hunting/fishing like myself. Living on the east coast has taken its toll on my sanity, I need a place where I can breathe a bit and enjoy the day. Life is too short for added stress. My only concern is, what is the job market like there?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Kathy. You can contact me at niclpga@aol.com. Where are you from? I am going up Next weekend to! Can you tell me more about yourself?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hello Nicole! I just came across your comment and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Kathy, and I am also considering this opportunity. I will be going up to Bishop next weekend to meet with Terry McAteer and am really excited. Are you still considering this internship? Do you have plans of going to check out the area?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative page! I was looking for a community to use in a novel where the main character is a climbing instructor and I found all the details I wanted right here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for such an informative page! I was looking for a nice community where a character in a novel I am writing could live and work as a climbing instructor. I found every detail I needed right here.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thinking about moving my daughter who is 3 there and myself a single mom and being a therapist at the school district. It sounds like a lovely town, but I am worried about girly things to do there for my daughter and I? And can I rent a decent place if I make 10 dollars an hour?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      went to high school in L.P. back in the 60s. lived in Bishop for short time.visit 2or3 times a year to fish area. breakfast at Jacks is a must for us. first time at Sabrina the store wasn't there yet. it just keeps getting better with age.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Randy Jones

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 5 years ago from Michigan

      I've never visited California but Bishop sounds beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm trying to convince my husband to move to Bishop. We have friends who have lived in Mammoth for a few years and I drive to visit them every month. Every month I'm there we spend at least a day or two in Bishop. I love it there. He's worried about leaving his job with the City of Los Angeles. I don't know what to do : (

    • glenbrook profile image
      Author

      glenbrook 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Could he transfer to another dept, say DWP? When I lived there DWP had a pretty good sized office in Bishop.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We are doing a bit of a road trip in late Sept early Oct starting in San Francisco and we will be staying overnight in Bishop so it was lovely to hear what to see, do etc. Our friends have stayed there before and said what a scenic place it is I am really looking forward to seeing so many new things, this is my first trip to the West coast of America and I am soooo excited.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great information. I am from big city and didn't know about Bishop until I was offered a travelling job to Bishop. I hope to see all the great places that you have listed. Nia

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have lived in beautiful Bishop since 1968 and I love living here. Several years ago when I was still teaching, I had surgery at the local hospital. My room mother was my surgery room nurse. What a nice feelilng it was to know she would be helping to take care of me. I am now retired from teaching and my former students are now adults. Two of my fourth grade students are now my dentist and my dental hygienist. Another former student is now a master coffee roaster and owns an awesome coffee house on Main Street in Bishop. You can buy just about anything you need at the local stores and the service is so personal and friendly. If you think you must traqvel out of town for some big city experiences, the the trip between Bishop and Reno is beautiful. Several people have told me that the scenery between the two places is some of the most beautiful they have ever seen.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I lived in Bishop from 1953 until 1962. (from the age of 15 mos. To 10 years old). My dad, grandfather, and several uncles worked up @ the mines and we lived in Rovana. It was a wonderful childhood and when I visit Bishop I know I am "home" once again......Theresa

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am a high school student who lived in Bishop for my entire until my sophomore year, when I moved down south. I agree, most people who live there, high-schooolers especially, think that it is incredibly boring. I, however, miss it's beauty every day, especially during Cross Country runs, for I miss not being able to run in the beautiful desert. Also, I miss the small town intimacy (although I must admit that there is less drama in the bigger cities.) Great review! Makes me want to visit!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My husband is going to Bishop for a project job. Will tell him the wonderful things you had to say. Wish I could go with him. BTW, is there a place to rent a ladder in town?

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      I would love to visit. Give it a thumbs up.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      We drove through Bishop many times when we lived in Tahoe. If I remember correctly there is a jerky store there with lots of exotic jerky. Buffalo, ostrich, elk, etc.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      5 years ago I had to move to Florida for my family. I had lived in Bishop for 5 years. I am so homesick sometimes I cry. I can't write anymore. I am at at work and don't want my mascara to run. When I moved to Bishop I knew I was in Gods Country. I hope to go back someday. It is humid in Florida. It is flat and the highest peak it the dump!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, thank you so much for this article. I absolutely love Bishop. I am considering moving to the area!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      I didn't know about Bishop, but it sounds really nice.

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 7 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      Thanks for giving me a look into life in a small town like Bishop.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      I've been to California a number of times, but not sure if I was ever in Bishop. sounds like a great place to live though.

    • profile image

      Tempus 7 years ago

      What a really interesting lens. Thought I'd stay a minute and spent an enjoyable five. Bishop will no longer be just a name on a map.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, Bishop sounds like a beautiful place that I would like to visit one day.. I have been all over California but never to Bishop. Next time I go to CA I will definitely try to go visit. Me and my family are always looking to visit new places.

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 7 years ago

      You have started me wanting to visit Bishop--great lens.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      I've never been to Bishop but it looks like a great town. Maybe someday I'll visit!

    • elizajane202 lm profile image

      elizajane202 lm 7 years ago

      I grew up in the Mojave Desert so I understand "small town" feel. (California City and Edwards Air Force Base) I only went up to Bishop for Track and Football but I remember how quiet everything seemed to be. I have a few friends that live up there now.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Sounds like a pleasant town.

    • glenbrook profile image
      Author

      glenbrook 7 years ago

      @glenbrook: My mistake... I was thinking of the dump by Mono Lake on Hwy 168 - the road to Benton.

    • glenbrook profile image
      Author

      glenbrook 7 years ago

      @paperfacets: I used to love that dump in Benton. There was 1 section where people would leave old cars and you could look them over for parts. Just before I went into the Air Force in 1988 I got a set of adjustable rocker arms off an old polysphere 318. I didn't have the tools to get the whole engine. A few years later I went back and it was all fenced off, had a fancy building (behind the fence), no more scrounging allowed. Too bad.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I love all things along 395. We are lamenting that Convict Lake is so changed, as far as getting campsites. Your town is wonderful and we have been to Laws Museum about five times. One year we got our truck's drive shaft replaced in Bishop because we broke it at an interesting dump in Benton. Took us a long time to drive to Bishop at 25 miles an hour.

    • glenbrook profile image
      Author

      glenbrook 7 years ago

      @RuthCoffee: Short answer is collecting rocks. Longer answer is here: Amateur Geology. Thanks for the comment, it reminded me that I need to get back to this lens and fill in a lot of the details.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 7 years ago

      Small towns can be a great place to grow up and to live as an adult. What is rock hounding?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Bishop sounds like a great place to grow up, and have always preferred living in small towns myself, I wouldn't have it any other way. Ours little town is only around 800 folks! - Kathy

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Sounds like a beautiful place to grow up and live your entire life. I love that the winter weather never seems to get too severe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      My husband and I have just been on vacation in the area. We stayed at Big Pine Creek campground, but went to Bishop several times. In fact we fell in love with the town, and would like to move there within the next year. Your description of the town has given me more impetus to move, thank you.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      great lens and information on Bishop, Cal. I have been there...We lived in the Bay Area before moving to the Midwest but still have 2.5 acres in Lancaster...don't think we'd ever move back though

    • glenbrook profile image
      Author

      glenbrook 8 years ago

      [in reply to Nice overview] The biggest challenge would be to find a job that pays enough to support a house payment. Property values are pretty high, but most jobs available are service type jobs that don't really pay that well. Exceptions would be Caltrans, Northern Inyo Hospital, or possibly the casino.

      There's not much shopping and almost no night life. Those aren't problems for me, but are for some people. As far as everyone knowing your business, I never found it to be a problem. It IS a small town so I guess it's a potential negative, but when I lived in Bishop I found people to be respectful of other people's privacy. I kind of liked the sense of community. It's one of the things I miss most about Bishop.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I just visited Bishop and the Eastern Sierras a couple weeks ago. Had a fantastic trip and I've really developed a liking for that entire area. I live in Orange County, just south of LA, and I've got an itch to move out of this region to an area that is slower pace and part of the great outdoors that CA has to offer. So Bishop is on my radar as a strong possibility to potentially move to.

      Curious... what are some of the challenges or tensions that exist living in that region besides what you already mentioned. And with living in a small town (besides that everyone may know your business)?... ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      We have a friend living in Bishop and would love to visit someday! She works at the Chamber of commerce and we have written Jill Kinmont Boothe, my wife Shelleys hero! YOu have a great site here and thanks for sharing Bishop with us, we would love to visit someday from our home here in Canada! All the Best,

    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens. We agree a small town is a great place to raise a family. Thank-you for all the good info. 5 stars*****