As a first travel post and since my blog is climbing oriented, I thought I’d write a short guide to Bishop for the first-timer! I’ve been there quite a few times over the last 4 years and still discovering spots.
The following highlights should cover the basics and then some:
Camping and Lodging:
The town of Bishop offers a number of motels, but there are few camping spots around and notably, BLM to camp on.
Here are my go-tos:
The Pit Campsite: Located about 10 minutes outside of town, you can get a campsite at The Pit for a few bucks. It’s the go-to climber spot. It offers designated campsites, fire pits, tables, and bathrooms in the center... as if the pit has a pit of its own. Be ready for the occasional windy night if you’re camped on the rim; so tie your tent down. The Pit puts you about a 10 minute drive from the main entrances to the Happy and Sad bouldering fields! Culturally, The Pit is known for having large climber Thanksgiving get togethers and drunken firepit nights!
BLM Land: It’s a bit all over the place from the tablelands behind the Happys/Sads to the Milks! You can sleep off of most roads just fine or pick a secluded spot to set up camp at.
Motels/Hotels: No need ‘cause you can shower elsewhere!
Showering and Hot Springs:
At about a 15-minute drive south of Bishop are the Keough's Hotsprings, a public hot spring. It’s $9 for a shower-only or $12 for all-access include swimming in the large heated “pool” or the hotter tub. I hear that the showers at the laundromat are better and only something like $5. I typically don’t shower and just hot spring it.
There are natural hot springs near Mammoth, about 40 minutes north of Bishop, which offer views and a good place to unwind with friends and some beers. This is a great, online guide for the mammoth area springs and more (remember to leave-no-trace at these spots and keep it nice for the next group):
I’m pretty sure the gas is cheapest at the Shell right next to Safeway/Von’s. I could be wrong.
If you’re headed north and back across the Sierras thru 88, gas is typically cheapest in Coleville.
Most of the other towns going north or south of Bishop have more expensive gas than in Bishop proper.
Food, Shops, Places!
Schatt’s Bakery is a must! ‘nough said!
The sandwich and jerky spot: Mahogany Smoked Meats.. Get it!
The Gear Exchange is great if you want to sell some stuff or buy used clothing and gear. East Side Sports will have all of your other outdoor needs. In between the two, you’ll find Black Coffee Roasters. It’s a good spot to chill at on rest days. They have wifi and you’ll run into folks from the crag.
You’ll find a lot of climbers at the Rambler Brewery after dark. They also have good food!
For all of your resoling needs, make sure to bring your old pair of shoes (and your friends’ old pairs from back home) for quality resoles at The Rubber Room. It also saves you from having to ship things to them.
I’ve only resoled my climbing shoes there and haven’t tried other services, but I will say that my experience has been 100% positive there since the resoles last!
The dog park?
The Bishop area offers world class climbing on mostly volcanic rock or granite.
Chris McNamara’s High Sierra Climbing Guide describes the higher altitude, alpine gems to get after in the greater Sierras:
The go-to Bishop Bouldering Guidebook by Mills Young and Mick Ryan has the main bouldering spots including, the Happys and Sads, the Druid Stones, the Pollen Grains and Buttermilks, and then some. The second addition is out of print but I heard that there's a new, updated edition coming out.
If you’re feeling sporty, check out Owen’s River Gorge. The go-to guidebook is by Marty Lewis. Amazon doesn't carry it unless you want it used for ~$1,400, but that's weird. Pretty sure I've seen it in climbing shops and gyms still! Maybe it's out of print/stock.
Pine Creek Canyon is close by as well and has been developed in the last 10-15 years. You’ll find single and multi-pitch, trad and sport. There’s an upcoming guidebook. Keep track of its release on their Facebook page; looks like it's imminent:
The Mammoth area also offers a variety of bouldering and crags. This guidebook is great for the area. Mammoth will typically be colder and snowy in the winter compared to Bishop:
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a cool rest day spot to visit:
Let me know if you have some spots I should add to this post!