Home » 2022 Bishop and Death Valley

Bishop, CA

Friday, March 4, 2022 - 3:00pm by Lolo
108 miles and 2 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Day 1 - Drive back to Bishop with a drive through the Alabama Hills and a stop at Copper Top BBQ for lunch

Mt. Whitney from Movie Flat RoadMt. Whitney from Movie Flat RoadWe left Death Valley via State Highway 190 and 136, which brought us to US 395 in the town of Lone Pine. Our destination was Andrew and Celeste’s house in Bishop, but since they were working until 5:00, we had some time to kill.

So, rather than driving through Lone Pine on 395, we took a detour to Movie Flat Road, a 5.7-mile unpaved road through the Alabama Hills. For people our age, some of the scenery in the Hills might even be familiar from watching old Westerns. Hollywood filmmakers discovered this dramatic scenery back in the 1920s and filmed hundreds of movies (particularly westerns), TV shows, and commercials here, such as “How the West was Won,” “Rawhide,” and “Gunga Din.” And, it’s not just about old westerns. Plenty of current day movies, such as “Gladiator,” “Django Unchained,” and the new Lone Ranger have used the surrounding hills as a set as well.

Mobius Arch Loop TrailMobius Arch Loop TrailThe Alabama Hills is one of our favorite places in the Eastern Sierra. They are both unique and stunningly beautiful, with hundreds of oddly-shaped boulders and towers set against the backdrop of Mount Whitney (the tallest mountain in the continental U.S.).

We stopped to take the short 0.6-mile loop hike to the iconic Mobius Arch, where photographers love to photograph Mount Whitney framed by the arch. So do Instagram influencers, so we had to wait our turn while a girl in pink spandex mugged it up for the camera. Wasn’t much of a photo today because it was so cloudy that Mt. Whitney wasn’t even visible.

Continuing up 395, we stopped for lunch in Big Pine at the Copper Top BBQ, an extremely popular place ever since it somewhat inexplicably won the title on Yelp of “America’s Best Restaurant.”

Lolo in Mobius ArchLolo in Mobius ArchWe have passed right by it so many times in the past, but this time we finally succumbed to the tempting smells emanating from its smoker and grill.

It’s a small roadside place with outdoor tables and nice views of the Sierra. Their specialties are tri-tip and pulled pork, so Herb and I ordered one of each and shared. It was really good, but I think America’s Best Restaurant is a bit of a stretch.

We made our traditional last stop before arriving at Andrew’s at the Bishop self-serve car wash, where we washed an incredible amount of dirt, sand, and splattered bugs off the 4Runner. At this point, the truck was cleaner than us.

Andrew and Celeste are great hosts. We had a nice home-cooked meal and a cozy evening telling them about our adventures in Death Valley.

Day 2 - Volcanic Tablelands

Andrew and Herb atop the Volcanic TablelandsAndrew and Herb atop the Volcanic TablelandsThe next morning was a Saturday, their day for rock climbing. It was extremely windy out, so they decided to go to the Volcanic Tablelands rather than the Buttermilks because it would be more protected from the wind.

The Volcanic Tablelands is another one of Bishop’s popular bouldering areas. It’s located just north of Bishop in a stunning area where the floor of the Owens Valley rises abruptly, forming a 300 foot-high volcanic plateau. It’s quite beautiful and only 20 minutes from Andrew and Celeste’s house. Bishop truly is a climber’s paradise.

Andrew bouldering at the Happies in the Volcanic TablelandsAndrew bouldering at the Happies in the Volcanic TablelandsIt was pretty cold out, so we told them to go ahead and we might meet them there later. Andrew called us and told us that it wasn’t too cold and that we should come. He incentivized us to come by telling us about a new way to get there that we would like.

Instead of driving to Chalk Hill Road and hiking from the climbers’ parking lot up a steep path to the top of the plateau (“tableland”), where they were climbing, he said there is actually a dirt road that would take us along the top of the plateau from which we could hike down to the climbing area. He said he would climb up to the road to greet us.

Celeste bouldering at the Happies in the Volcanic TablelandsCeleste bouldering at the Happies in the Volcanic TablelandsTrue to his word, there he was a few miles out along this very infrequently traveled road. As we bounced along this terrific road. From there, he showed us the way down to the climbing area, where we hung out and watched them climb for awhile.

The rock in the Volcanic Tablelands is volcanic Bishop tuff, which is a solidified volcanic ash. It has a lot of sharp edges, pockets, and cracks, so after a few climbs their fingertips were pretty done.

After Herb and I climbed back to the top of the plateau, we continued along the road to see where it ended and why it was even there. After another mile or so, we came to a gate with a Beware of Dog sign and off in the distance was a beautiful home set against the snow-capped Sierra. What an incredible location for a home.

It was our last night in Bishop. I can definitely understand why Andrew and Celeste have made it their home.