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Coachella Valley “Road Trippin” – California’s Bishop is Well Worth the Visit

Coachella Valley “Road Trippin” – California’s Bishop is Well Worth the Visit
California’s Bishop is Well Worth the 
Visit - By Françoise Rhodes Host of 
Traveling With Françoise 
Television and Radio 

As much as I like flying to a destination, I enjoy even more a good road trip on our U.S. Highways and back roads leaving the freeways behind.  One of the more well-traveled highways in California is U.S. Highway 395, offering breathtaking views, easy navigation and a little time travel.

In 1826, Jedediah Smith was one of the first to record a journey on a scenic dirt trail used by gold prospectors heading to and from the Comstock Lode area in Southern California. As the trail evolved into a dirt road to be called El Camino Sierra people began promoting the road as a scenic route and in 1910 government funding was announced to construct U.S. Highway 395.

Stretching some 1,300 miles into Washington, I always use 395 when going to Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and the Sierra Nevada’s.  What I don’t often do is spend time in Bishop except to purchase baked goods at the historic and famous Erick Schat’s Bakkery founded in 1907, and home to the ‘Original Sheepherder Bread.’ 

However this trip was different, with my final destination being Bishop.  Upon arriving and checking into the lovely Creekside Inn, I was ready to explore.  What may seem like a one main street town is far from the truth.  Bishop is a real community first and tourist town second.

Bishop – originally called Bishop Creek – is located on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada along the banks of the creek that is its namesake.  Bishop sits at an elevation of about 4,100 feet while just a few miles away in either direction peaks tower to 14,000 feet, giving Bishop a truly spectacular setting garnering the tagline “Small City with a Big Backyard!”

Bishop’s setting is an irresistible draw to outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and businesses alike and is world famous for its scenery, hiking, fishing, climbing, hunting, bakeries, and for its mules.  Every Memorial Day Bishop hosts Mule Days complete with the world’s largest non-motorized parade down Main Street.

Covering slightly less than two square miles, and with a year round population of 3,400, on a busy day, the City of Bishop will attract in excess of 30,000 visitors for various events and recreation.

Visitors will find that all the restaurants serve the locals as well as the visitors.  In looking for things to see and do during my three day stay, I quickly discovered that the outdoors is the place to be offering amazing mountain views in every direction.

Being one who always stops at the Visitors Center, I am also a traveler that never hesitates to ask the locals what to do and see.  Locals first directed me to Lake Sabrina in Bishop Creek Canyon just a few miles from downtown and picture perfect.   Offering cabins for rent, camping, RV’ing, a boat landing on the lake, general store and spectacular views, I found myself ready to pick up a fishing pole and relax.

Spending a good part of my day at Lake Sabrina, next on my list was back to the city for Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Town. Wow!  Be prepared to step back in time to the pioneer days. Located on eleven acres with 30 buildings of exhibits, including an original Steam Engine and its original depot, give yourself plenty of time to wander around and be amazed at how people used to live.  I found Laws to be fascinating and a very family friendly museum.

Another local’s suggestion was Convict Lake, about 37 miles north of Bishop at an elevation of 7,850 feet.  I know June Lake is very popular, but my pick for a day at the lake would be Convict Lake.  Even with all of the activity on the lake, there is a serenity about the area that I found appealing, not to mention the fun two mile hiking trail around the lake with stunning views.

While in Bishop I watched a community softball game, walked around on the main street, and then sat back and enjoyed the sounds of running water from the creek outside of my hotel room.

I want to apologize to Bishop for thinking it was a “drive through town only good for stopping at the bakery or for a restroom break.”   I know there is so much more to do and see so I’ll be planning another trip to Bishop, California a “Small City with a Big Backyard” and I hope you make plans to explore Bishop as well!

You’ll find more info about Bishop at bishopvisitor.com, and for Traveling With Françoise at travelingwithfrancoise.com .  And yes, they have a phone booth! 


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