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A Road Warrior’s Guide to Bishop, CA

Every time Adam and I visit a new climbing area it means figuring out the lay of the land – where to sleep, fill up water, shower, and everything else that you need to accommodate van life. While some information can be found online, many times it takes trial and error to figure out the best or cheapest options. In my new “Road Warrior’s Guide” series I will be compiling some of the beta we’ve collected from a variety of climbing areas and towns to serve as a resource for other climbers, travelers, and van dwellers. I’m kicking off the series with Bishop, California…

Camping

One of the best parts of spending an extended period of time climbing in Bishop is the easy to access and affordable camping options.

Buttermilk Camping

Pleasant Valley Pit Campground

This campground is managed by the BLM and has roughly 75 sites, accommodating both tent and car campers.

  • Cost: $2.00/night per vehicle
  • Camping Limit: 60 days
  • Season: Open November through early May
  • Amenities: toilets, garbage cans, recycling cans
  • Nearby Climbing Areas: Birdie Cracks, Happy Boulders, Sad Boulders
  • Directions: From Bishop, take 395 North towards Mammoth Lakes. Turn right onto Pleasant Valley Dam Road and drive ~0.5 miles. Turn left onto a gravel road (a campground sign is located at the start of the gravel road) and the campground is located at the end of the road.

Volcanic Tablelands Dispersed Camping

The Tablelands is apart of a large area of BLM land just north of Bishop. It was formed over 700,000 years ago as a result of the Long Valley caldera, located to the northwest. Dispersed camping is allowed on designated pull-outs and clearings along the Casa Diablo Road.

  • Cost: Free
  • Camping Limit: 14 days
  • Season: Open year-round
  • Amenities: None – please be responsible and pack out all trash/waste! It’s vital in maintaining access to these beautiful areas. Leave no trace!
  • Nearby Climbing Areas: Birdie Cracks, Happy Boulders, Sad Boulders, Fish Slough Boulders, Roadside Boulders
  • Directions: From Bishop, take Highway 6 North and turn left onto Five Bridges Road. Continue on this road for ~1.8 miles, at which point the road will merge with Jean Blanc Road. When the road changes from paved into a wide, washboarded dirt road you are now on Casa Diablo Road. At the entrance to the area there is a BLM kiosk, which provides maps and information on the area.

Buttermilk Road Dispersed CampingButtermilk Camping3

Dispersed camping is allowed on designated pull-outs and clearing along Buttermilk Road. Please, do not camp in bouldering parking areas or on Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) land, as it threatens access for everyone.

  • Cost: Free
  • Camping Limit: 28 day limit (per each ranger district within Inyo National Forest)
  • Season: Open year-round
  • Amenities: None – please be responsible and pack out all trash/waste! It’s vital in maintaining access to these beautiful areas. Leave no trace!
  • Nearby Climbing Areas: Buttermilk Country, Little Egypt, Cardinal Pinnacle
  • Directions: From Bishop, head west on CA-168. After ~7 miles, turn right onto Buttermilk Road.

 

**Don’t forget to get a California Campfire Permit. They are easy and free to obtain! Go to preventwildfireca.org, watch a video, take a quiz, then download your permit to your phone.**


 

Drinking Water Fill-Up

Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center

Conveniently located in downtown Bishop, the Visitor’s Center has a spigot out front of the building, which can be accessed any time or day and can quickly fill up large water bottles.

  • Address: 690 North Main Street, Bishop

 


 

WiFi

Main Street

The town of Bishop provides everyone with free WiFi along all of Main Street.

Looney Bean Coffee

A local coffee shop with a good amount of seating
(tables and chairs as well as couches), access to outlets for charging laptops/phones, and free WiFi for customers. You can also pick up the Main Street WiFi from here (and they have outdoor seating if you don’t need outlets).looneybean

  • Address: 399 North Main Street #A, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 5:30am-6:00pm

Black Sheep Coffee Roasters

A local coffee shop directly next to Wilson’s Eastside Sports. It’s smaller than Looney Bean with less seating options and a more limited supply of outlets, but has more of a climber/dirtbag vibe. If you’re in need of a climbing partner, hanging out here in the morning is a good way to meet other climbers. They not only have their own free WiFi for customers, but you can also pick up the Main Street WiFi from here.

  • Address: 232 North Main Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 6:30am-6:00pm; Friday-Saturday 6:30am-7:00pm; Sunday 7:00am-6:00pm

Starbucks

Free WiFi with indoor seating and outlets.

  • Address: 905 North Main Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 5:00am-9:30pm

Mountain Rambler Brewery

Bishop’s local brewery and restaurant offers a large area of tables with a casual atmosphere and free WiFi. While it can be a great place to work while you eat/drink, there aren’t any accessible outlets near the seating so come with fully charged laptops.

  • Address: 186 South Main Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday closed; Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-10:30pm; Friday-Saturday 11:30am-11:30pm; Sunday 11:30am-10:30pm

 


 

Showers

Desert Shower

If it’s warm enough outside, fill up on water, drive down one of the many dirt roads, and find a nice quiet spot to scrub. Be sure to use bio-degradable soap and stay away from streams/rivers.

  • Cost: Free!
  • Address: quiet, secluded desert roads
  • Hours: 24/7

Wash Tub Coin-Op Laundry
This laundromat, not only has coin operated washers and driers, but also plays host to two showering rooms (toilet, shower stall, and mirror), which makes multi-tasking on rest days that much easier. If the owner is not there to unlock a shower room, simply give him a call (760.920.1012) and he will gladly come over to get you set up. They even have free WiFi so you can work whilaundryle you wait for your laundry or partner to shower.

  • Cost: $5.00 – includes shower (no time limit), towel, and soap
  • Address: 236 North Warren Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-6pm, 8pm-10pm

Keough’s Hot Springs

This resort is built around natural hot springs that flow through the area. In addition to showers and their heated pool, they also provide free WiFi. For a better look at their facilities check out their website.

  • Cost: $4.00 for a 7 minute token shower / $10.00 for a day pass to the facilities (access to the Hot Spring pool and showers)
  • Address: 800 Keough Hot Springs Road, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 11am-7pm, Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 9am-7pm, closed on Tuesday

Whitney Portal Store

  • Cost: $5.00 – includes shower (no time limit)
  • Address: 13 miles west of Lone Pine next to the Mount Whitney trail head
  • Hours: open seasonally (usually May-October); check their website for details

Whitney Portal Hostel

  • Cost: $5.00 – includes shower (no time limit), towel, and soap
  • Address: 238 South Main Street, Lone Pine
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8am-8pm

 


 

Grocery Stores

Vons

Your basic supermarket with a large selection of groceries and produce. Use your Vons or Safeway member card (free to get one) to receive price discounts and reward points for discounted gas.

  • Address: 1190 North Main Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 5am-1am

Smart & Final

This warehouse-like supermarket has a limited selection of groceries and bulk items, however, if they carry an item you like, you can often get some great deals. It’s just across the parking lot from Vons, so it’s worth a quick check to see what they have.

  • Address: 1180 N Main Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 7am-9pm

Blue Lupine

This small natural food store carries a variety of bulk foods, specialty food items, local in-season produce, and dietary supplements. If you’re looking for something specific they don’t have, just ask, as they may be able to order it for you.

  • Address: 192 W Line Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm; Sunday closed

Bishop Farmer’s Market

The farmer’s market is a great way to buy fresh, local, and in-season produce from various farms in the area.

  • Address: 200 Church Street, Bishop
  • Hours: Saturday 9am-12pm (June-October)

 

Add these 6 Must-Climb Cracks of Bishop to your upcoming trip’s tick list!


 

Anything I left out that you’d find helpful for future guides? Have additional beta to share regarding Bishop?

Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Buttermilk Camping2


Other Road Warrior Guides:

Road Warrior’s Guide to Joshua Tree, CA

Road Warrior’s Guide to Red Rock, NV

 

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10 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Road Warrior’s Guide to Red Rock | Bomber Cams, Sinker Jams

  2. I agree with Carrie about the pit. Stayed there Veterans Day weekend 2016. The trash was overflowing and the bathrooms were horrible. The cost was $14 a day and be careful with the machine as it ate a $20 and shutdown on us without giving credit for the cash. We will stay elsewhere next time using some of your suggestions. Thanks.

    Like

  3. Thank you very much for taking the time to write this all down. I appreciate it a ton. Cheers!

    Like

  4. Carrie says

    We are camping at the pit now- May of 2016- and they are now leaving it open year round per the Ranger who came by. However, they are limiting the services. Trash and bathrooms will get less attention, so bring your own TP!

    Like

  5. Michael Wilkerson says

    You can camp overnite in Vons parking lot. Good to know if pulling in late. Eric Schat’s bakery on Main, a must. Ask about day old table, killer cinnamon rolls and sammiches. Rv park directly behind Erics will sell you a shower. County park, north end of town has camping.

    Like

  6. Uncle Louie says

    Okay you guys are wild , even thought I was a wild one, in my youth nothing compares to you guys. Stay safe and Laurie and I love you guys.

    Like

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