The second-largest town in the Eastern Sierra, Bishop is about two hours from Yosemite’s Tioga Pass entrance. It's a major recreation hub, with dozens of motels and a funky little art and outdoor community. Bishop offers access to excellent fishing in nearby lakes, climbing in the Buttermilks just west of town, and hiking in the John Muir Wilderness via Bishop Creek Canyon and the Rock Creek drainage. The area is especially lovely in fall, when dropping temperatures cloak aspen, willow and cottonwood in myriad glowing shades.
The earliest inhabitants of the deep Owens Valley (which includes the towns of Independence, Big Pine, Bishop and Lone Pine) were Paiute and Shoshone Native Americans, who today live on four reservations in the area. White settlers came on the scene in the 1860s and began raising cattle to sell to nearby mining settlements.