Content Produced in Partnership with Bishop Visitor

When the temperatures drop and the seasons begin to change, it becomes evident there are two types of people in the world. The first choose to stay indoors by a warm fire under layers of blankets with a hot cup of cocoa in hand. The others are more adventure minded, preferring to get outside in the thick of things to experience the best of the cold weather firsthand. If you fall into the latter category, your winter wonderland may lie in the Sierra Nevada region of California in a town called Bishop. Because of its position in a high desert environment, visitors to Bishop can embrace a multitude of seasonal adventures in just one day. We're talking hiking in the morning and skiing in the afternoon sort of fun — a thing Bishop residents call summertime fun in a wintertime wonderland. Sandwiched between the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains in the central part of the state near the Nevada-California border, Bishop is the ideal playground for wayward explorers who don't like to sit still for too long. We all know there’s nothing like an adrenaline rush to beat the chill, right?

Photo by Zak Mills via Bishop Visitor

Snow Sports

It’s a little unfair that one place can have so many options for winter fun. A good starting place for a diverse winter adventure in Bishop is to travel southwest on California Highway 168 toward Aspendell where there is an abundance of land to sled, snowshoe, or cross-country ski. Bishop is within easy reach of popular ski areas like Mammoth and June Mountain Ski Areas, too, giving you the perfect excuse to really have a fun weekend getaway. Whatever your winter adventure may be, Bishop is the perfect launching spot to embrace it all.

Photo by William Bazargani via Bishop Visitor

Rock Climbing

Because Bishop is technically considered a high desert climate like Moab, the temperatures tend to stay fairly mild during the winter months. It's just one reason why winter is pegged as bouldering season in this corner of California. Bishop is quickly garnering attention as one of the bouldering meccas of the United States for the quality of rock, near perfect climbing temperatures, and easy accessibility. In addition, the Buttermilks, Happy and Sad Boulders, and a number of other bouldering areas each offer a variety of levels of difficulty for climbers to try. That’s great news for rock climbers, who can find plenty to explore just north of town. Owens River Gorge is California’s most concentrated sport climbing area with more than 500 routes to choose from. As a special bonus, you’ll also get a good hike from the parking area to the gorge (about a mile and a half.) Additionally, the tall granite canyons at the Pine Creek Crags consistently draw in rock climbers of all skill levels.

Photo by @ginger_and_jameson via Bishop Visitor


If you’re looking for an experience that’s a little less extreme winter hiking is still an option. Simply head out of Bishop into the desert, away from the mountains, canyons and higher altitudes for a chance to explore more of the unique landscapes surrounding this California gem. Our top picks are places like the Tablelands and Tungsten Hills, each of which offer a wide range of hikes that are perfect for any type of adventurer and the scenery is enough to make anyone stop and gape.

Photo by Mike McDermott via Bishop Visitor

How to Do It

Between the snowshoeing and rock climbing, the skiing and the hiking, it's clear the Eastern Sierra region is an adventure haven no matter the time of year. But after a day full of exploring, even the most seasoned traveler wants wants a cozy place to rest and refuel. Boasting numerous locally-owned restaurants and a wide assortment of lodging options, downtown Bishop can provide just that. To top things off, many of those downtown locations are conveniently located along Highway 395 so you can enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors in just minutes. It's just one of many reasons why Bishop calls itself a small town with a big backyard. Ready to get going? Click here to start planning your winter adventure in Bishop.

Graphic via Bishop Visitor

Recreate Responsibly

As seasons change, so do each destination's practices. With the winter weather settling across much of the country, there are new, winter-specific issues facing people getting outside, from challenging weather conditions, to parking, to the need to bring extra layers. A Winter Working Group helped put together seasonal Recreate Responsibly Winter Guidelines along with resources for you to know before you go, which can be seen in full here. Plan ahead and use these #RecreateResponsibly guidelines to enjoy the outdoors safely and in harmony with one another while respecting our lands and waters. Join the Coalition while visiting Bishop and tag your outdoor adventures along the way!