Things To Do In Inyo County, California

Things To Do In Inyo County California

Exploring the Best of Inyo County: From the World's Oldest Living Tree to Iconic Hollywood Film Locations

We began our trip exploring the wonders of Mammoth Lake for three days, and now we're moving on to the next leg of our journey. Our next adventure takes us to Bishop, where we'll see the oldest living tree in the world. Afterwards, we'll hike through Lone Pine – a beloved film location for classic Hollywood movies. 
Let’s go!

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts for reasonable prices.

First Itinerary: Discovering  The Beautiful Lakes of Mammoth

After spending three days in Mammoth Lake, we took a side trip to Mono County to see an Ancient Lake before continuing to Bishop. From there, we headed to June Lake, which was without a doubt the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. A Three-Day Guide to Exploring Mammoth Lake

A Change of Plans

Our original plan was to visit Mammoth Lake and then head to Death Valley National Park. However, due to flooding, the park was closed by the time we were scheduled to leave. We quickly adapted and headed to Bishop and Lone Pine instead, which turned out to be an unforgettable experience. Remember, there's always adventure to be found wherever you go – you just need to be open to different possibilities.

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

A Journey to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

September 23
Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center 
Address: White Mountain Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

It was a two-hour drive from Mammoth Lake to reach the stunning Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, located in the White Mountains of California's eastern Inyo County. The drive itself was a breathtaking experience, with majestic mountains on display all around us. Being surrounded by such natural beauty made me feel incredibly small around here. We went in September which is a great time to visit the park as it's less crowded and the temperature is just perfect – not too hot nor too cold.

Exploring Schulman Discovery Trail

How to get there: near the Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center 

Location: White Mountain Rd, Bishop, CA 93514
Entrance fee: 3 USD per person, max of 6 USD per car
Parking: Free Trailhead Parking
Schulman Grove Discovery

Distance: 0.9 miles (Loop)
Duration: 32 minutes
Elevation: 265 ft
Highlights: Oldest Trees in the World

Reminders: We left before dark as the roads are narrow and winding and definitely should try to avoid driving at night.

We took a short hike along the Schulman Discovery Trail, situated near the Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center. It was already late afternoon when we arrived, so the visitor center was closed and we also opted for the shorter route. The trail showcases the Ancient Bristlecone Pines, which are said to be older than Sequoia trees. It was a humbling experience to be surrounded by these magnificent trees and to realize that they have been here for centuries. We made sure to show our respect to these trees and to preserve their environment by leaving everything as we found it.

Things To Do In Inyo County California

The Methuselah Tree is also located in the area and is known as the oldest non-cloned living organism on Earth. Due to our limited time, we only had the chance to explore one of the three trails near the visitor center. However, we were still able to enjoy the beautiful views and take in the peaceful atmosphere of nature.

For those who have more time to spare, here are the details of the three trails: 
  • Discovery Trail: A short one-mile loop that features Bristlecone Pines and rest benches along the trail. It's perfect for those with little ones who want to explore nature.
  • Methuselah Trail: A 4.5-mile loop that offers scenic views and rest benches. While no sign points it out, the Methuselah Tree can be found along this trail.
  • Bristlecone Cabin Trail: A 3.5-mile loop that passes by old miner's cabins and mine entrances, and features many ancient bristlecone pine trees and limber pines. This trail can be combined with the Methuselah Trail for a full 3.5-mile loop.

We highly recommend visiting the Schulman Discovery Trail. Just make sure to plan accordingly, as the roads can be narrow and tricky to navigate at night.

Unique Things To Do In Inyo County California

Stopover: Sierra View Overlook, California

We made a quick stop at the overlook and were met with extraordinary panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Range's backbone.

Things To Do In Inyo County California

Where to Stay For The Night

If you're planning on exploring the Ancient Bristlecone Forest for another day, we highly suggest lodging somewhere nearby. We stayed at the Bristlecone Motel for convenience.

Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center to Bristlecone Motel
47 minutes drive

September 23-25 - Big Pine
Check-in: Bristlecone Motel
Address: 101 North Main Street, Big Pine, CA 93513
3 days 2 nights: 235 USD

Desert Hike at Alabama Hills National Scenic Area - A Hollywood Favorite!

September 24
Desert Hike at Alabama Hills National Scenic Area
Address: Whitney Portal Rd, Lone Pine, CA 93545

The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area has been the backdrop for popular Hollywood films of the past, including Gunga Din, The Tall T, and How the West Was Won. Although unfamiliar with these films, the thought of such a unique location heightened my curiosity. We were seeking a glimpse of the iconic Mt. Whitney, and this scenic area proved to be the perfect location. The landscape features a striking desert panorama, with snow-capped mountains providing a stunning backdrop. On clear days, you can even catch a glimpse of the majestic Mt. Whitney in the distance.

Dressing Appropriately for a Desert Hike

Since it's a desert hike, we made sure to wear appropriate attire. Even though it wasn't summer, the September heat was still intense. We made sure to apply sunscreen, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants for extra sun protection, and bring enough water using our Nalgene Reusable Water Bottle and snacks for the hike.  Hiking Gears We Use

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

First Hike: Shark Fin Trailhead
Address: Lone Pine, CA 93545
Distance: 1.7 miles (Loop)
Elevation: 249 ft
Duration: 45 minutes

The Famous Shark Fin Rock Formation

There is parking available near the trailhead. However, during the summer months, this place is usually packed. Luckily, when we visited in September, only one car was parked, so it wasn't too crowded. From the parking lot, the Shark Fin rock formation is easily visible. This formation is famous among mountain climbers, and we were lucky enough to witness two men climbing up the fin during our visit.

This desert hiking experience was a bit different from our usual ones, and we didn't quite complete the loop. The desert trails were flat, hot, and dusty, but the stunning mountains in the background made it worthwhile. For our next hike, we found a spot nearby with the help of Google Maps. However, the directions led us to a no-trespassing sign, and even the road was damaged with a large hole. Perhaps the locals were trying to warn us away from the wrong path? Who knows, It's hard to say.

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

Second Hike: Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead

Address: Movie Flat Rd, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Distance: 0.6 miles (Loop)
Elevation: 42 ft
Duration: 13 minutes

Alltrails: Mobius Arch Loop Trail 

The Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead and its Natural Wonders

The Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead was our second stop. We had a wonderful time traversing this trail and completed it with a great sense of accomplishment. Our little one had a blast climbing on rocks and playing in the dirt. Be sure to check out the impressive Heart Arch and Elephant Arch while you're there!

We begin our adventure at the trailhead, where you'll find parking available. From this point, you can already spot the Heart Arch formation, which looks even more spectacular from a distance, showcasing its heart-like shape. Afterwards, continue on your hike, and it won't be long before you stumble upon the Mobius Arch.

Enchanting Arch and Scenic View of Mt Whitney

Depending on your vantage point, the Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead offers a stunning glimpse of Mt Whitney situated just below it. Also, the arch has an incredible vibe to it, almost like an aura that transports you to a whole other universe. Just imagine being here at night, with the stars shining so brightly. Although I must admit, it wouldn't be the best idea to visit at night!

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

More Desert Landscapes

If you're still feeling energized, keep going on the hike! Venture forth to discover even more stunning rock formations, including the Heart Arch and Elephant Arch, up close. This desert hike turned out to be an enjoyable experience and we are thrilled to have seen these magnificent rock formations. It's mind-boggling how these natural structures look so beautiful with the snowcapped mountains in the distance – a truly breathtaking sight to behold.

Desert and Dessert: A Perfect Combination

After completing the hike in just one hour, we headed to Erick Schat's Bakery for a well-deserved treat. Ice cream was the perfect way to cool down after braving the scorching desert. In fact, desert and dessert are the perfect combination to wrap up this adventure.

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

Must-Try: Delicious Treats at Erick Schat's Bakery in Bishop

Erick Schat's Bakery
Address: 763 N Main St, Bishop, CA 93514 

Erick Schat's Bakery is a well-known stopover in Bishop, famous for their freshly baked goods. During my visit, I couldn't resist trying the macarons, sourdough bread, and of course, their delicious ice cream.

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

Early Sunset Dinner at Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina Boat Landing
100 Lake Sabrina Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

We stopped by Erick Schat's Bakery and picked up some sandwiches before going to Lake Sabrina for an early evening meal. The view of the sunset over the lake was breathtaking, and it was a perfect way to end the day before heading back to the motel. However, be mindful of the time as bugs can become an issue as darkness approaches, and it can be unpleasant to dine with them around. Additionally, the drive down can be tricky due to limited lighting on the road, so be sure to take that into consideration.

Things To Do In Inyo County, California

Last Day: 
Bishop to Los Angeles with a Stopover in Lancaster

September 25
Bishop to Los Angeles: 4 hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

After lunch, we drove from Bishop back to Los Angeles, taking a break in Lancaster to stretch our legs, get gas at Costco, Costco carwash and enjoy some delicious food from Chick-fil-A. If you want to break up the drive, you can also make an optional stop at the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center.

Optional stopover: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center
Address: Red Rock Canyon State Park, 37749 Abbott Dr, Cantil, CA 93519

The Beauty of Inyo County: A Journey Worth Taking

I’m pleasantly surprised by Inyo County's natural beauty. From the oldest living trees to the stunning rock formations along the desert hike, it truly was a sight to behold. If you're in the Mammoth Lake area and looking for more adventure, I highly recommend taking a scenic drive to Bishop's Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest to witness the ancient trees. Additionally, Alabama Hills is an excellent hiking spot for families, just be sure to keep an eye on the time and stay hydrated. Overall, my journey to Inyo County was well worth it.

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