I’m sharing a comprehensive guide to RVing along California Highway 395, with places we love and places we’ve been wanting to explore when we’re not driving through.
2. Lone Pine to Bishop
From Lone Pine, the drive continues through the town Independence, with its surprisingly grand county courthouse. Once you reach the tiny town of Big Pine it’s easy to continue straight on to Bishop, but you would miss one of the most unique spots along the route.
— Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest: The oldest trees in the world can be found in Inyo National Forest east of Big Pine. A visit requires an 80+ mile round trip drive along winding mountain roads, but if you give yourself plenty of time – and leave the rig behind – it’s well worth the effort to see these ancient trees up close in their isolated, rugged natural habitat.
The Bristlecone Pine Information and Historic Landmark has space to park an RV (call ahead to confirm). If you end up wanting to stay overnight, the adjacent Glacier View campground has first come first served sites, some with electric hookups.
Bishop is the biggest town on this stretch of 395. Although the population is under 5,000, Bishop is a positively bustling city compared to other towns along the route. You’ll find chain hotels and restaurants here, and it’s a good place to stock up on groceries. At the same time, Bishop is full of charm and independent businesses to enjoy.
Bishop City Park in the center of town has spaces for RV parking, and is in walking distance to several restaurants including the famous Erick Schat’s Bakery. We love Schat’s breads, but the place draws quite a crowd.
Great Basin Bakery, located at the south end of town, has online ordering and pickup available. Two other local places we’ve enjoyed are Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant, and Looney Bean for coffee, pastries, and hot sandwiches.
We’ll take food to go (ok, sometimes from McDonald’s) back to a picnic table at the park, stretch our legs, and take the dogs out before getting back on the road.
- TIP: For RVers driving through, the Vons supermarket at the north end of town has easy access to get gas, park the rig while you grocery shop, and get back on the road. Upper Crust Pizza in the same shopping center is another good place for lunch or to pick up a pie for dinner later.
We’ve stayed overnight in Bishop several times, and have not ventured beyond the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds. The RV park is basic, but it’s tough to beat the great price for full hookups, pristine bathrooms, lots of space to walk the dogs, and an ideal location in the center of town.
We would love to check out one of the Browns Campgrounds in the area. Brown’s Town has a beautiful, shady set up in Bishop, while Millpond Campground is just a few miles outside of town.
Alternatives for camping with some amenities in a more remote location are Brown’s Owens River and Mcgee Creek RV Campground. They’re both about 40 miles north of Bishop, and less than 20 miles from Mammoth Lakes.
— Lake Sabrina: When we first started RVing we stayed at the Fairgrounds in Bishop for a week. It was August, and the temperature was in the 90’s. After a 20 scenic mile drive up into the mountains, we were thrilled to experience cooler weather and a walk around gorgeous Lake Sabrina.
— Cardinal Village Resort: Driving back from Lake Sabrina, plan time for lunch at this cute, family-run resort. The friendly staff can also point you in the direction of hiking trails leading out from the property. Here’s a great article about other stops along the same Bishop Creek drive.
- TIP: The following spots are about 40 minutes north of Bishop. They’re not easy to get to (if at all) by RV, so I recommend them as day trips. You’ll be doing some backtracking – but it’s all scenic!
— Convict Lake: Easily accessible from 395, Convict Lake is a gateway to the Sierra backcountry. Visit this stunning alpine lake for a picnic and photo op, or a longer hike on the miles of trails around the lake and into the mountains.
— Wild Wily’s Hot Springs: One of the best known of many natural hot springs in the area, Wild Wily’s is relatively easy to get to and situated in an unforgettable setting. This is a good piece about how to get there and what to expect.
— Hot Creek Geological Site: Near Wild Wily’s, take in another view of the area’s natural wonders. Hot Creek is like a mini Yellowstone, with turquoise blue steaming hot springs and bubbling mud pits punctuating the meandering creek. You can’t touch the water here, but it’s an easy stop to experience a fascinating geological site.
Next post… continuing north on 395 from Bishop to Bridgeport!