7 Best Things to Do in Bishop California (with maps)

Updated: July 18, 2022 | Has affiliate links

Hiking Piute Pass is one of the best things to do in Bishop CaliforniaBishop California sits at the bottom of the Sierra mountain range and provides easy access to beautiful lakes and gorgeous hiking. In addition Bishop can serve as a great nașe for exploring the area by taking a few beautiful day trips South and North. Read more as we explore my favorite things to do in Bishop California.

Coming into Bishop, you will immediately be impressed by the imposing Sierra mountains in the background. A small town, Bishop is the gateway to the eastern side of the Sierra mountain range. From camping to fishing and hiking, the Sierra mountains offer it all in easy driving distance from the small town of Bishop. Come along with me as we explore my favorite things to do in Bishop California.

Map of lakes and camping around Bishop California
Map of lakes and camping around Bishop California
See my photos from Bishop

With our map in hand and some good hiking boots we started exploring the beautiful things to see in Bishop Calfornia.

1. South Lake

South Lake seen from near the boat launch
South Lake seen from near the boat launch
See my photos from Bishop

Bishop Creek drains into South Lake, which is located at the end of South Lake Road past Four Jeffrey Campground. With great hiking and fishing, enjoying South Lake is one of the peaceful things to do in Bishop California.
From the Bishop Pass trailhead, located near South Lake, the Bishop Pass Trail follows the lake’s upper rim before entering a small forest. The Trail intersects with the Chocolate-Ruwau Loop Trail, which takes hikers past Ruwau Lake, the Chocolate Lakes, and Bull Lake.
Bishop Pass Trail hikers then pass several smaller alpine lakes before arriving at the mountainous backdrop of Saddleback Lake. The Trail then passes Bishop Lake, with marvelous views of Inconsolable Range. The Trail becomes more steep as it climbs through switchbacks enroute to Bishop Pass, with views of Mount Agassiz and Dusy Basin. After Bishop Pass, hikers will see LeConte Canyon, cross a beautiful waterfall, and see the Devil’s Crags before the Trail ends at the John Muir Trail.
Other popular hiking trails from South Lake are the Baker and Green Lakes Trail, the Treasure Lakes Trail, and the Tyees Lakes Trail. The trails lead to the lakes they are named for.

Fishing South Fork is among favorite things to do in Bishop California
Fishing South Fork is among favorite things to do in Bishop California
See my photos from Bishop

South Lake is accessible from both the boat launch area and the upper parking lot. With excellent trout fishing, both South Lake and Bishop Creek’s south fork are popular with anglers. A limited number of parking spaces along the creek allow anglers to fish Bishop Creek from the parking lot to South Lake.

2. Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina seen from the dam
Lake Sabrina seen from the dam
See my photos from Bishop

Surrounded by mountains, Lake Sabrina was created by damming Bishop Creek’s middle fork. With two trails, a walkable dam, and stocked with trout, hikers and anglers place a trip to Lake Sabrina high on the list of things to do in Bishop California .
The Sabrina Lake Trail runs along a hill on the south side of Lake Sabrina, with granite peaks surrounding alpine meadows and lakes. The George Lake Trail gains 2,500 feet in elevation before ending at George Lake.
A boat launch provides access to Lake Sabrina. It’s possible to drive down to the lake bed when water levels are extremely low. The Sabrina Lake Trail lakes have good fishing.

3. North Lake

North Lake during May
North Lake during May
See my photos from Bishop

North Lake has excellent hiking trails, with majestic mountain peaks and pine and aspen trees creating spectacular views. One trail in particular, the Piute Pass Trail, attracts many adventurers, who see hiking North Lake as one of the most breathtaking things to do in Bishop California .
The Piute Pass Trail begins at the end of North Lake Campground, where two small trails provide direct access. A single-track trail is just to the trailhead’s right, while a wider trail, home to a pack mule station, is beyond the trailhead, near the restrooms. Both trails intersect the Piute Pass Trail just past the campground’s last campsite. If you’re driving to the Piute Pass trailhead you have to park by North Lake in a special North Lake Hiking Parking area which is located a few minutes walking from North Campground.

If you’re planning to stay at North Lake Campground, check the state website as the campground is located at high elevation and it usually opens after the other lower campground.

Hikers on Piute Pass getting water from a nearby frozen lake
Hikers on Piute Pass getting water from a nearby frozen lake
See my photos from Bishop

The Piute Pass Trail quickly intersects with the Lamarck Lakes Trail. The Lamarck Lakes Trail follows along steep switchbacks and passes rugged cliffs and photogenic peaks to Lower and Upper Lamarck Lakes.
The forested portion of the Piute Pass Trail gradually disappears, replaced by switchbacks and crags as the elevation increases. The trail hugs the shores of Loch Leven, Piute Lake, and several smaller lakes, all surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks. The lakes freeze in winter and don’t thaw out until mid-May or June. Even in summer, it’s possible to see snow on the peaks.

Past Piute Lake, there are splendid views of the trail already hiked and Humphreys Basin after crossing Piute Pass. A trail located west of Piute Pass goes through rock formations to Humphreys Basin, which has a great view of Mount Humphreys, and Desolation Lake.

4. Intake II Lake

Located on Bishop Creek’s middle fork, Intake II Lake is the lowest elevation lake in the Bishop Creek Canyon, at 8,103 feet. Intake II Lake is home to several popular family things to do in Bishop, including fishing, float tubing, and picnicking.
Intake II Lake, created by a dam and managed by Southern California Edison, regulates the flow of Bishop Creek. The lake, especially after the season opens in May, is a popular rainbow trout fishing spot. Picnic areas and nice grassy areas dot the lake’s shore. Fall foliage brings even more beauty to the lake, One fishing area is wheelchair accessible.

5. Camp in Bishop

Large Jeffrey pine trees with the South Fork of Bishop Creek running through the Four Jeffreys campground
Large Jeffrey pine trees with the South Fork of Bishop Creek running through the Four Jeffreys campground
See my photos from Bishop

With over 20 campgrounds, camping is one of the most popular things to do in Bishop. The Bishop Creek area has several Forest Service campgrounds catering to hikers, backpackers, anglers, rock climbers, and boaters. During the summer, the campgrounds are busy and crowded.

Big Trees Campground gets its name from the Jeffrey pines situated around the campground. Located along the banks of Bishop Creek, Big Trees Campground has more shade and trees than other campgrounds. There are 16 secluded campsites, some shaded, others in open sunlight.
Forks Campground is located near where Bishop Creek’s middle and south forks meet. The campground‘s 21 campsites are away from the road, providing some peace. Some campsites are along the creek’s banks while others are in a shaded area among aspen and pine trees or sage.
The well-maintained Four Jeffrey Campground, with 106 campsites, is located on Bishop Creek’s south fork, near South Lake. The campsites closer to Bishop Creek are more scenic and shady while the other campsites are exposed to the elements.
Bitterbrush Campground, with 30 campsites, has fantastic views of the Owens Valley and the Sierra crest even though a power line distracts from the view. The campsites along Highway 168, except for some brush and a few trees, are exposed to the elements.

At Bitterbrush, Campsite number 10 has a larger tree providing afternoon shade. The creekside campsites receive shade from Pinyon and Jeffrey pine trees. Anglers have success fishing Bishop Creek from the campground.

6. Erik Schat’s Bakery

The Classic Erik Schat's Bakery delivery truck
The Classic Erik Schat’s Bakery delivery truck
See my photos from Bishop

Food lovers place a visit to Erick Schat’s Bakkery on the list of things to do in Bishop California . While the bakery makes pies, donuts, cookies, and pastries from scratch, it is best known for sheepherder bread.
Sheepherder bread first appeared in the Owens Valley during the Gold Rush when Basque sheepherders, missing the foods of their homeland, used Dutch ovens to bake their traditional bread. In 1907, the sheepherders convinced the Schoch family to build a brick oven and bake sheepherder bread at their bakery. In the 1960’s, Erick Schat and his family purchased the bakery and continued to bake sheepherder bread. Using stone hearth ovens, Erick Schat’s Bakkery bakes 25,000 loaves of sheepherder bread daily, some of which is used for sandwiches at the bakery’s deli.

7. Take a Day Trip from Bishop

Map of best day trips from Bishop California
Map of Best day trips from Bishop California
See my photos from Bishop

Bishop’s location on Highway 395 makes it an ideal base for a day trip to see more of the Eastern Sierra. The destinations, all located 65 minutes or less from Bishop, rewards visitors with more breathtaking scenery, recreational opportunities, history, and charming towns. Taking a day trip is one of the change of pace things to do in Bishop California. So, let’s take a look at 6 favorite day trips from Bishop, starting South of Bishop and moving our way North.

1. Alabama Hills & Lone Pine

Sierra mountains seen through the Mobius Arch on the Arches trail
Sierra mountains seen through the Mobius Arch on the Arches trail
See my photos from Alabama Hills

Situated in Lone Pine, little over one hour driving from Bishop, the Alabama Hills area is a series of granite rock formations and boulders rising up from the desert floor. With Mount Whitney in the background, visiting Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills makes for one of the more scenic day trips from Bishop.
Alabama Hills was the filming location for many vintage western movies. The Museum of Western Film History has filming location maps available. The Mount Whitney Restaurant displays autographed photos of actors who filmed movies in the Alabama Hills.
Hikers can traverse the Arch Trail, a loop trail leading to the Mobius Arch, a natural arch that frames Mount Whitney and the Lone Pine Peak. Mount Whitney is accessible via the Mount Whitney Trail, whose trailhead is located at Whitney Portal. Exploring Alabama Hills is one of my favorite things to do in Bishop California.

2. Manzanar War Relocation

Clothes hanging out to dry in one of the bedrooms
Clothes hanging out to dry in one of the bedrooms
See my photos from Manzanar

The Manzanar Internment Camp, located 45 minutes from Bishop, is one of a dozen facilities where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. A National Historic Site, visiting the Manzanar Internment Camp is one of the day trips from Bishop for history buffs.

The Manzanar Internment Camp has a visitor center with historic photographs and exhibits illustrating the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II, 10,000 of whom were sent to Manzanar. A self-guided auto tour takes visitors to sentry posts, Japanese gardens, the camp hospital, an orphanage, the camp cemetery, a residential barrack block, and the administrative area.

3. Convict Lake

Beautiful view of the crystal clear water at Convict Lake.
Beautiful view of the crystal clear water at Convict Lake.
See my photos from Convict Lake

Convict Lake, 40 minutes from Bishop, is one of the region’s deepest lakes. Hikers and anglers make Convict Lake a destination day trip from Bishop due to its scenic backdrop and glass-clear water.
Convict Lake got its name as it was the location where a posse captured a group of escaped convicts from Carson City. The Convict Lake Loop Trail goes around the shoreline, through sagebrush and aspen and pine groves, with views of Mount Morrison and Mount Laurel. The lake and a nearby creek are stocked with trout. Movies like How The West Was Won and commercials, including one for Nature Valley Granola Bars, were filmed at Convict Lake.

4. Mammoth Lake

Colorful lights decorate Village Plaza during the night
Colorful lights decorate Village Plaza during the night
See my photos from Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes, little under one hour driving North from Bishop, is one of the more picturesque day trips from Bishop California. An outdoor recreation hub, Mammoth Lakes has multiple hiking trails and crystal clear mountain lakes, all with majestic views.

A hike to Mammoth Lakes’ Devil’s Postpile National Monument comes high on any list of things to do in Bishop California. However, make sure you check the state park’s website for road closures as this hike is very popular and many time restricted.
The Town Loop is a family-friendly trail that provides a tour of Mammoth Lakes and connects to other trails. The Seven Lakes Point Trail runs along the southern portion of Mammoth Mountain to a viewpoint where Mary, Mamie, Twin, Horseshoe, TJ, George, and Crowley Lakes are visible. For history lovers, the Mammoth Consolidated Mine is on the trail to Hart Lake. Other trails provide lake access.
The Downtown Mountain Bike Trail and the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park attract cyclists. Mammoth Lakes has many restaurants while The Village at Mammoth and the Mammoth Luxury Outlets are popular shopping areas. A day trip to Mammoth Lake should certainly be on your list of things to do in Bishop California.

5. June Lake loop

Beautiful view of June Lake on a sunny winter day
Beautiful view of June Lake on a sunny winter day
See my photos from June Lake

Traveling on Highway 158, the June Lake Loop, is a fun day trip from Bishop. The June Lake Loop, a little under an hour North from Bishop, goes past numerous alpine lakes and creeks with captivating views of Carson Peak and the Eastern Sierras.
From the June Lake Loop, hikers enjoy trails originating from the Loop’s lakes and creeks. June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake are good trout fishing, boating, paddling, and swimming spots. Rush Creek is popular for fly fishing.

Pullouts allow motorists to stop and take in the scenery. In winter, Silver Meadow offers a scenic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trail. The town of June Lake has a handful of restaurants, shops, and galleries, and a slot machine-shaped historical marker. If you’re coming to Mammoth Lakes, then a drive on the June Lake Loop should certainly make it on your list of things to do in Bishop California.

6. Mono Lake

The Sierra Nevada snow covered mountain peaks seen from Mono Lake shores
The Sierra Nevada snow covered mountain peaks seen from Mono Lake shores
See my photos from Mono Lake

Mono Lake, little over one hour driving from Bishop, is estimated to be at least 760,000 years old. The lake is best known for its tufa towers, spires and knobs of calcium-carbonate formed when alkaline Mono Lake water mixes with underground spring water. The tufa towers attract birds and wildlife, making Mono Lake one of the must-do day trips from Bishop for nature lovers.
The most impressive tufas, the south tufas, may be seen on a self-guided walking tour at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Guided canoe trips from Navy Beach to the tufas occur on weekends. The Mono Lake Boardwalk Trail takes visitors through marshlands to a tufa viewing area. The Mono Lake Trail is an out-and-back trail from the Old Marina to the water’s edge, with lake and tula views and excellent birdwatching.

Combining your day trip to Mammoth Lakes with a walk around some beautiful areas of Mono Lake should come high on your list of things to do in Bishop California.

Is Bishop California Worth Visiting?

For the nature lover, Bishop California is a beautiful place to visit and spend at least few days. Exploring the nearby lakes and creeks, fishing and hiking are readily available with beautiful vistas and peaceful lakes.  This area of the Sierra mountain range is simply gorgeous everywhere you look. Not only right around town, but also in short driving distance to the South and the North, you can find plenty of beautiful things to do in Bishop California.

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