Bishop and highway 168 west into Bishop Creek Canyon


Last Update:

I revisit Bishop at October 1-3, 2021

Important note for 2021: check for smoke and snow conditions before your trip.

Picture Gallery Blog, North lake Oct. 1st 2021:

Blog about other eastern Sierra fall color locations:

Few blogs links that provides additional information, this will help you plan your road trip to this area:

What? : Bishop is the largest town in the central east Sierra highway 395 corridor. The town is sounded by beautiful Sierra mountains, narrow valleys and alpine lakes from the west side and the dry arid White Mountains from the east.


Where? : The town of Bishop is located at the Owens Valley on highway 395, 172 miles north of Mojave CA and 205 miles south of Reno NV. Highway 168 will take you 20 miles west into the Sierra mountains valleys.

Google Map Link


When? : Year round town, excellent place to visit at spring and summer, autumn time may be the best when all aspen trees changing color to yellow and red. Winter introduce access challenge to the high sierra sections where road and trails are covered with snow.


Due note: This is one of the best places in California to see the Aspen trees fall colors, the season is short and exact peak color time is different every year, if you are 2-3 weeks late than you can miss the season.


My thoughts: I must admit I did not visit Bishop town but always went straight to the Sierra mountain west of town, taking hwy 168 east into the mountains. Many beautiful, picturesque mountain and alpine lakes, hiking opportunities up into the mountain’s and one of the best California location for late autumn aspen trees red and yellow colors performance.


The visit:


Nestled between the alpine Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and the arid White Mountains to the east, Bishop is the largest town in the Owens Valley.

At 4,150 ft (1,260 m) above sea level, at winter it has a much drier and warmer weather than the nearby ski town of Mammoth lakes.

Nearby you can go and do sightseeing, bouldering, hiking, mountain biking, off-road driving, backpacking, birding, and fishing, among other outdoor adventures.


The natural environment of Bishop changes quickly from the dry high desert, the wide-open Owens Valley floor to an alpine wonderland of pine forest, rushing streams and gorgeous deep-blue alpine lakes surrounded by the mountain peaks of the Eastern Sierra.


You can spend a short night stop at Bishop as part of your highway 395 Eastern Sierra road trip or use this town as a basecamp for few days, exploring nearby attractions.


High in the Sierra-Nevada not far from Bishop, California, hikers can embark on strenuous day hikes or multi-day backpacking adventures. No matter which way you go, you will be immersed in beautiful Southeastern California Sierra wilderness.


Southwest of Bishop, Bishop Creek Canyon is a natural wonderland of nature. Mountains peeks, lakes, streams, forests, and waterfalls, with a variety of campgrounds and recreational opportunities. You can visit the lakes and admire the view from the viewing points and hikers can embark on strenuous day hikes or multi-day backpacking adventures.


Highway 168 will take you west from the town of Bishop into the mountains.

The Bishop canyon area is super scenic to drive through, especially if you visit in the fall where all the Aspen trees change their color into yellow/orange/red.

This road is close at winter at Aspendell.


The drive along highway 168 into Bishop Creek Basin:


There are many outdoor camping options at this location, better to get a reservation, most has first come first serve campsites.


How long the visit will take:

You should plan for a few hours’ drive if you just want to explore the aria and enjoy the viewing to a full day activity if you plan to hike.


Buttermilk glacial boulders:

On your hwy 168 drive, just before it starts to get into the high sierra valley turn right into Buttermilk dirt road. The Buttermilk glacial erratic boulders look like giant marbles, Buttermilk Road is a dirt road and a rough drive in a regular sedan, drive slowly or come in a 4WD.

This location is very popular for bolder climbers.


Intake-II lake:

The small Intake-II lake is located just near the main road, it has a picturesque location, perfect for photography or a short-stop.


North Lake:

North Lake is located 9,350 feet above sea level. The steep, narrow, and winding dirt road leading to this non develop lake. The road leading up the cliff starts just before arriving to lake Sabrina campground near the end of the hwy 168 road. If you reach to this point do not miss the short drive up to North lake.

When the road reaches the lake level there is a small parking on your left just before arriving the lake and there is another one at the end of the dirt road on the far side of the lake.

You can hike around the remote slide of the lake, need to boulder-cross the river draining the lake.

This lake is probably the best photo spot in the area, especially in the fall when all the Aspen trees leaves, mainly on the west slide of the lake, are turning yellow and orange.

Morning sunrise hours where the sun highlight the mountain to the west and windless day create a perfect picturesque colorful mirror view.


Lake Sabrina:

See more details at my dedicate blog to Lake Sabrina.

Located about 19 miles from Bishop at the end of highway 168 west. Lake Sabrina is created by the damming of the middle fork of Bishop Creek, and you can stroll the walkway along the edge of the lake.

Lake Sabrina Boat Landing features a magnificent view along with boat & pontoon rentals, a café that offer both food and drinks.

The trailhead at Lake Sabrina is a start point for a day hike or multi-day backpacking adventures. The Blue lake Trail is about 6 miles round trip and rated strenuous where it will lead you up into the alpine lakes area nested deep in the sierra mountains.


South Lake:

Another very scenic lake, South Lake (9,868 f) is a popular angling destination. The lake is located at the end of the 7 miles road that is forking left from main 168 highway (around 15 miles out of Bishop).

South fork scenic road climbing in the valley near the running river, the road itself is prime location for colorful fall pictures where all the Aspen trees change their color into yellow/orange/red.

Depending on the water levels in the reservoir and the season, boat rentals, including tandem kayaks, motorboats, and pontoon boats are available.


Inyo National Forest:

National forest area extending 165 miles along the California/Nevada border and includes 1.9 million acres of lakes, meadows, winding streams, and rugged Sierra mountain peaks.



Bishop Nearby attractions:

Laws Railroad Museum:

You will find indoor and outdoor exhibits including the original depot and Slim Princess steam locomotive.  Experience what life was like over 100 year ago.

Located 5 miles north of Bishop on Hwy 6.


Keough's Hot Springs:

Established in 1919 and the same pools are still used today by locals and visitors. This is the largest natural hot springs pool in the Eastern Sierra. It offer a large hot pool as well as a intimate hot soaking pool.

From Bishop drive 7.4 miles South on US-395. Turn Right on Keough Hot Springs Road. Continue straight for .6 miles.


Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest:

See more details at my dedicate blog to Bristlecone Pine Forest.

The oldest living tree on our planet, more than 5,000 years old, located deep at the White Mountain ridge, of the Inyo National Forest, east of Bishop.









  1. I also visited last October.


Post a Comment