Locals fondly call Bishop the small town with the big backyard. The town itself is a charming throwback to simpler times – where else can you find the top packers in the country vying for the World Champion title at the Mule Day’s celebration? But Bishop’s real draw is the great wide open. Bristlecone Pines is home to the oldest living trees on Earth. View them on scenic hiking trails for visitors of all abilities, then head back to town to enjoy delicious fare and local microbrews at one of several pubs. Not into hiking? Soak in the culture of the Paiute Shoshone or visit the site of the early mining and railroad camps that dotted the region.
Bishop is about six hours from San Francisco and you’ll love the change of pace and the beautiful scenery both at your destination and along the way. Head east on I-80 and follow the signs for I-80BLE/US-50E/Capital City Freeway, then 1-80 Business/Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe. Continue on US 50 E/El Dorado Freeway past South Lake Tahoe and then swing a right onto CA-89 S.
After about 11 miles, you’ll make a left turn onto CA-88 E/CA-89 S before continuing on to NV-88 N. The scenery here is breathtaking as you head through Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. It’s just a hint of things to come.
Make a quick right on NV-756 E/Centreville Lane and then continue straight onto Dresslerville Road. After about 1.4 miles, you’ll continue on Dresslerville Road, then Riverview Drive, and make a right on US-395S. Keep on truckin’ till you hit the Bishop city limits about two hours later.
The Joseph House Inn is an adorable B&B with gracious hosts, a lovely property, and thoughtful amenities like bathrobes and a terrace or patio in some rooms. Your hosts will greet you with a glass of wine, which you can enjoy from an Adirondack chair overlooking the pond and lush gardens in the backyard. The rooms are a bit old-fashioned but comfortable. A good night’s sleep and the incredible made-to-order breakfast will have you ready to hike for miles.
The Hostel California is the place to be for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts on a budget. The friendly staff and shared accommodations make it easy to partner up for your big adventure. Staying here is like staying with family. The centrally located, charming bungalow features a spacious porch, fully-equipped kitchen, and a plethora of books celebrating the region. Parking is free, so leave your car and take advantage of the free bicycle rentals for a quick jaunt into town.
The Vagabond Inn is the perfect choice for budget travelers who may need a little more privacy. The rooms are basic but super clean, and the atmosphere is friendly and professional. Guests love the Inn for its free wi-fi, outdoor pool, and delicious continental breakfast. Bringing Fido along? They’ll be more than happy to have him. With unbeatable rates and a fabulous central location, it’s no wonder that many guests are here for their second, third, or tenth time!
Bronco’s Deli is a local favorite that serves hearty Mexican fare alongside sandwiches big enough to share. The service is first rate, the food is fresh, and the prices absolutely can’t be beat. Regulars love the pastrami for lunch, and breakfast burritos stuffed full of spicy potatoes, eggs, and cheese will keep you going through the afternoon. Bronco’s Deli is open at 7:30 am on weekdays, 8:30 Saturday, and closed on Sunday. Get there early – they don’t serve dinner.
This family-run restaurant is a block off the main drag and a little out of the way, but has a cult following among locals. The mother-daughter duo who run the joint serve up Mexican favorites with a smile. The elote (corn slathered in crema and cotija with a sprinkling of chili powder) is not to be missed. Share a platter of spicy nachos and then cool down with a horchata, fresh fruit salad, or frozen yogurt. Antojito’s Hipocampus opens daily at 11 am.
Mountain Rambler Brewery is the place to see and be seen after a long day enjoying the great outdoors. The convivial atmosphere and extensive selection of local beers are just the icing on the cake. The real draw here is the food. From juicy burgers cooked to perfection to hearty brats with kraut to unforgettable seasoned fries… is your mouth watering yet? The menu here also features delicious salads and house-made hummus if you’re eating light. Mountain Rambler is clean, comfy, and open seven days a week.
Bristlecone pines are the oldest living trees on Earth. The most ancient is found on Methuselah trail and has survived an estimated 4,743 years. The full hike will take about 3-4 hours with plenty of stops to admire the breathtaking views. Even the most seasoned hikers walk away in awe of the majestic power of the Bristlecone pines. Just getting there is a journey in itself – it’s a treacherous hour drive along winding roads that end at an elevation over 10,000 feet. Once you’re acclimated, choose from 3 trails. There’s a visitor’s center but don’t forget to pack a lunch.
Exhausted from a long day hiking the trails? Take an afternoon off and delve into history at the Laws Railroad Museum. But it’s more than just a museum. This destination is a veritable village of more than 20 separate buildings, each featuring artifacts and exhibits that show, rather than tell, visitors what life was like in the old mining town. You’ll see a doctor’s office filled with the medical equipment of the time, an ore-processing mill, and even a church that features an impressive library. Children and adults alike will delight in the “Slim Princess” locomotive that still stands proud at the restored depot. Free admission.
The Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center may be small, but it’s a worthwhile stop that is culturally significant. Most visits take less than a few hours, but there’s so much to learn at this tiny museum on the grounds of the Paiute reservation just next door to Bishop. Check out lovingly restored artifacts alongside exhibits that tell the history of the Paiute Natives in the region. You’ll also learn about the tribe’s ongoing conflict with the LA water department and what you can do to help. The cultural center is open year-round.
Bishop’s Pass is a popular 9.6-mile trail just outside of Bishop. Unfortunately, the stunning views of the beautiful basin and the tranquil lakes along the way may not be accessible to beginner hikers. The elevation of almost 12,000 feet at the peak is dangerous if you haven’t properly acclimated and the switchbacks can be treacherous when the weather is bad. However, if you’re up for a challenge, the exhilarating hike through Bishop’s Pass is not to be missed. You’ll see why it’s one of the most popular routes in the Eastern Sierras.
Little Lakes Valley Trail is located in the Inyo National Forest. This hike is shorter than nearby Bishop's Pass Trail, and the terrain is less challenging, but there’s gorgeous scenery nonetheless. The full six-mile hike is most challenging at the trailhead. This is a wonderful place to visit in fall, when the changing leaves wash the forest in vibrant shades of red and orange. The dog-friendly trails are perfect for a family outing or a solo adventure.