Visiting the Owens Valley is not the easiest trek, as weather often prevents visitors from driving through Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park during much of the year. As far as the crow flies, Bishop is only about a 90-minute drive from my base in Fresno; but instead, I must drive south through Bakersfield and Tehachapi, and then through the Mojave Desert and north on I-395. The drive takes about 5 ½ hours.

But the scenery in the Eastern Sierras and Owens Valley is well worth the effort, and makes for a fun-filled and breathtaking road trip if you happen to travel through the Golden State.

My suggestion for your home away from home is Bishop, a town of about 3,000 people in Inyo County. Lone Pine, about an hour south, is great if you’re going to be trekking up Mount Whitney; Mammoth, of course, is where the Los Angeles crowd ventures for skiing. Quaint Independence has one of the prettiest courthouses in California. Mammoth hosts the local airport if you actually fly in. But while Mammoth is convenient (and its surrounding scenery is sublime), there is not much of a community feeling, as it is mostly condo developments mixed in with strip malls.

Bishop, about 40 minutes south of Mammoth, is a fine compromise, as you are smack in the middle of the Owens Valley and its awesome outdoor recreational opportunities. Most folks that visit Bishop come to fish; and if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of comfortable roadside motels to stay. The downtown along the main drag has plenty of coffee shops and unforgettable bakeries. If you have children, Bishop boasts a city park that would be the envy of any city in the U.S., complete with tennis courts, a swimming pool, duck ponds and baseball fields. There is also a dog park, which became part of the daily routine while Whiskey and I based ourselves there.

All of Bishop’s offerings exists with the spectacular backdrop of the Sierras nearby. And while there are supermarkets, a Rite-Aid and yes, a Starbucks, mercifully they are on the outskirts of the town instead of Bishop’s center.

Mono Lake is about a 60 to 75-minute drive north; June Lake, which is well worth a visit for its lovely scenery and microbrewery, is about 45 minutes away, just up the road from Mammoth. The fishing destinations are endless; Crowley Lake is a favorite, but that subject is a discussion well worth taking up with locals. In any event, Bishop has become one of my favorite towns in California, and it’s a destination I look forward to visiting once or twice a year. Enjoy the drive, and stop often, as the views are stellar.

Where to stay: Honestly, there is plenty of accommodation for all price ranges, but book ahead: once fishing season starts, places book up fast. We loved the Trees Hotel - and if you grew up in the 1970s and remember when motels were where we went to sleep while on the road, you'll appreciate the place. Family owned, the manager, Chris, is lovely, and the beds are super comfortable. They are remodeling the rooms one-by-one, but the rooms as they are now are clean and comfortable; and the Wi-Fi works quite well. What I like about this place is that you are about 10 minutes away from Bishop's city center by walking - close enough to enjoy the cafes, bakeries and city park, while stocking up at the bait-and-tackle-shops, without hearing all that I-395 trucking racket.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

The scenery of the Eastern Sierras is just minutes away from Bishop

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

Crowley Lake is about a 30 minute drive away

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

Murals add splashes of color to Bishop's downtown

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

The city park is great for kids and dogs - and ducks when left alone

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

Blooming trees contrast with the Sierras as a backdrop

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake, Leon Kaye, trees hotel

One highly recommended hotel in Bishop

Eastern Sierras, Bishop, Owens Valley, California, travel, fishing, Mono Lake

Bishop is anchored by a beautiful city park

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.