Bishop, California, & South on US 395


I arrived in Bishop, California just as the sun was about to dip behind the Sierra Nevada mountains.  All the town’s stores were closing for the evening, so I just spent a few minutes walking through downtown.

The Bishop Twin Theater is still showing movies, although it lacks a flashy neon marquee.

There’s a mural across from the Bi-Rite Market that remembers Father John J. Crowley.  (There’s also a viewpoint in Death Valley that bears Father Crowley’s name, and of course, Crowley Lake on the previous page.)

Road Geeks will immediately realize that one of America’s greatest highways comes to an end in Bishop.  US 6 was, at one time, the longest highway in the federal system, stretching from the end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Long Beach, California.  In 1964, routes were re-numbered, and US 6 was unceremoniously chopped off at Bishop.  A simple “END” sign, near the intersection with US 395, marks the highway’s current western terminus, demoting it to America’s second-longest highway.

After seeking out the end of Highway 6, I decided it was time to make the final push towards my destination for the night: Lone Pine.

The 60 mile stretch from Bishop to Lone Pine is long, flat, and boring.  US 395 stays at the bottom of the Owens Valley.  The only landmark that will hold your attention (aside from the looming mountains) is the Owens Valley Radio Observatory.  The OVRO’s huge dishes are on the other side of the basin, far enough from the highway to look like tiny white dots.  In reality, it’s the world’s largest university-operated radio observatory.

Public tours are offered on the first Monday of every month, and reservations are recommended.  You can call the Big Pine Chamber of Commerce to secure your spot: (760) 938-2114

Once you’ve passed the OVRO, lock your eyes on the horizon, with an occasional glance at the Sierra Nevada mountains on your right (sorry, no good pictures of them, since the sun had already set behind them, casting a shadow across most of the valley).

Day 10 began at the historic Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine.  I had stayed here in 2005, so I knew it would be decent.  It is expensive, though: rooms in the motor inn section (the part approved by AAA) often cost $100 or more per night.  I stayed in the historic hotel section, which has sinks with separate hot and cold fixtures, and fewer frills — but still costs more than $70.

Lone Pine’s downtown is just a few blocks long, with several restaurants and motels serving tourists.  The town’s traffic light marks the intersection with Whitney Portal Road, which takes us to the awesome Alabama Hills.  I got up early on Day 10 to explore the sandstone hills at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

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