Bishop – Winter in a "Small Town with a Big Backyard"

On the eastern side of the Sierra—just behind Yosemite National Park—sits the town of Bishop, “a small town with a big backyard”. The town is chock-full of great restaurants, shops, fascinating museums, and mountain views in every direction. During the hot summer months, outdoor recreationalists flock to the high peaks. Throughout the winter, though, the options for outdoor activities really open up.
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This story has been created in partnership with the Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, California.

Outdoor Recreation in the Winter

Mountain biking, road biking, biking to the brewery… keep your bikes tuned up! You can even rent a bicycle at the Zagster bike share located near the Bishop Chamber of Commerce.

Now that the granite rock has cooled to a manageable temperature, the boulders in the Buttermilk area offer fun and challenging problems. The backdrop for climbing there is the stunning, snow-capped Sierra.

Hiking is another way to catch some fresh air in the winter. Many trails are still open, and you can enjoy fewer crowds leading to stunning views, such as those over Rock Creek Lake.

Other outdoor winter activities include fly fishing on the lower Owens River and ice skating at some of the high alpine lakes.

Of course if you’re looking for the fluffy white stuff, backcountry skiing and splitboarding are nearby. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are also available on many trails outside of Bishop.

Eat, relax, and play near downtown

Keough’s Hot Springs is a short drive from downtown. The hot springs are a perfect way to wind down an adventurous day, and the sunset view from the pool is spectacular. You can also indulge in a massage at the pools if you’re seeking extra relaxation.

Hungry? Diverse and delicious options around town include Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and American. There are two bakeries in town, multiple coffee shops, a brewery, and a great wine bar with beautifully crafted cheese plates. Many of the establishments also display a variety of local art, lending each place a unique vibe.

Murals decorate the walls of several buildings downtown and following a self-guided tour is a great way to spend an afternoon.  If you need a bit more stimulation, catch a movie at the local theater or you can even go bowling.


Many Native Americans still call Bishop home. Historical and cultural information is readily available at the Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center near downtown. The center also has CDs available for travelers on highway 395 that feature personal anecdotes and facts for many landmarks along the highway. It’s a fascinating look into Native American history and perfect for a road trip.

The other major museum in Bishop is the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site. Wandering through the museum is a step back into the late 1800’s. Each building on the museum grounds is full of relics from the region, and some of the buildings on the site are historic as well. This museum is not to be missed when traveling to Bishop!

Both museums in Bishop rely on donations from visitors, so definitely consider supporting these important historical centers.

If you are planning a road trip including Bishop, California and nearby parks, check out this itinerary; California and The Southwestern Desert Parks.

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