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Bishop

Explore an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side

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The town of Bishop brims with outdoor activities. Situated at the north end of the Owens Valley just off Highway 395, with close access to some of the Sierra’s most dramatic high country, this “small town with a big backyard” is a blue-skied utopia for skiers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, and anglers. Magnificent peaks—including 14,505-foot/4,421-meter Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous U.S.—offer countless secret places to discover, such as alpine stunner Lake Sabrina, about a half-hour drive southwest of Bishop. Birders take note: Lake Sabrina is a good place to look for snow quail (technically white-tailed ptarmigan).

When winter snows retreat, Bishop is a common jumping off point for backpacking trips into the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas (Inyo National Forest wilderness permits required for some areas; permits, along with tips and trail maps, are available at the White Mountain Ranger Station on N. Main Street). In this climbing and backpacking mecca, Sierra Mountain Guides offers a host of mega-expert adventures, such as ice climbing and ultra-light backpacking, but can also create an amazing backcountry experience to fit your interests and skill level. Other great places to explore include the dramatic White Mountains—site of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest—to the east and the Volcanic Tablelands to the north.

There’s stuff to see in town too. Stop by Erick Schat’s Bakkery for just-baked bread and treats. And more than 20 colorful murals adorn buildings downtown, showcasing the history of Inyo County. Before you leave, stock up on elk, buffalo, and other unusual jerkies at the original location of Mahogany Smoked Meats. Check out the town’s events page for a rundown of what will be going on during the time you plan to visit.