Content Produced in Partnership with Bishop Visitor

In a day and age when a relaxing vacation can seem hard to come by, there’s a town in California that’s quietly changing the game. Bishop’s 4,000 residents will proudly point to the mountains, saying they’re “a small town with a big backyard.” It’s one way to describe a place that has exclusive access to the Eastern Sierra’s high peaks, soothing hot springs, and deep valleys and canyons. Located along Highway 395 between Southern California and Nevada, this once booming mining and railroad town is once again enjoying a hay day as families, Baby Boomers and avid RVers road trip to the area to turn off the electronics and step back in time to enjoy nature in its purest form. You’ll feel like you’ve uncovered the wild, wild west — with all the comforts only the 21st century can provide.

Photo by @coruscatingimages courtesy Bishop Visitor

Pick Your Season

RVers and casual drivers will find true delight navigating the winding roads to take in the mountain vistas from behind the wheel throughout the year. The glory of Bishop is that most of the magical alpine lakes located at higher elevations are accessible with virtually minimal effort in the warmer months. Aside from a scenic drive full of photo opportunities, you'll also feel encouraged to pull over and cast a line for one of the many trout that swim through the waterways. If you stick around for mid-September you'll be rewarded with a special color show through those areas. Because Bishop is located at a higher elevation, the fall foliage creates a cascading effect down the mountainside, slowly enveloping the city of Bishop in bright golds, reds and oranges. For more, check out this fall color map and full guide to the best locations here.

Photo by Inyo County Photo Shootout courtesy Bishop Visitor

Stretch Your Legs

You can’t visit Bishop without taking a hike — the Eastern High Sierra is its backyard after all. But with so many hiking areas out there, how do you choose? It really depends on what you want to see. Lake Sabrina, located near Bishop Creek Canyon, offers scenic valleys and towering granite cliffs that are sure to delight photographers. Alabama Hills is a popular favorite as well. Easily recognizable from several Western films, the one-mile loop hike to Mobius Arch is easy to navigate during the fall and spring. Yet again, photographers will want to keep their camera handy — the arch almost perfectly frames Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48.

Photo by Ron Nickerson via Bishop Visitor

Get Inspired

It’s hard not to be inspired by a town that has panoramic views of the mountains on all sides. Dig deeper than the landscape, though, and you’ll find a resilient, hardworking community that’s just as rousing. Laws Railroad Museum traces Bishop’s history through the railways, showcasing how this frontier town came to its own in the 1800s in the midst of the mining boom. Meanwhile, the Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center Museum’s interactive exhibits and displays share the history and culture of the Native Americans who first settled the area and made the land their home.

Photo by Amy Leist courtesy Bishop Visitor

Start Planning

Whether you prefer a quaint bed and breakfast or a stylish modern hotel, there’s a lodging option for you in the city of Bishop. Add to it the impressive collection of ethnically diverse restaurants downtown, your pallet will have just as much fun exploring as your legs. What are you waiting for? For more vacation inspiration, take a peek at our 48 Hour Guide to Bishop. (LINK TO 48 HOUR GUIDE).