We stayed at the Silver Canyon BLM Bishop, CA in April 2020.
Our Previous Stop: Trona Pinnacles BLM – Camping Review & Info
Our Next Stop: Twenty Mile Beach Walker Lake Nevada – Camping Review & Info
Location: 37.402510, -118.331795
Camping Limit: 14 Day
Cell Phone Service
Verizon – Good
AT&T – Good
Laws Railroad Museum – 0.5 miles
Bishop City Park – 6 miles
Pleasant Valley Reservoir – 14.5 miles
Buttermilk Boulders – 17 miles
Lake Sabrina – 25 miles
Lake Crowley – 35 miles
Mammoth Lakes – 46 miles
Alabama Hills – 66 miles
Mt. Whitney – 75 miles
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – 51 miles or 15 miles via 4×4 Silver Canyon Trail
Death Valley National Park – 116 miles
Trona Pinnacles – 165 miles
Camping At Silver Canyon BLM Near Bishop, CA
Silver Canyon BLM is a little known BLM dispersed camping area just outside the beautiful town of Bishop California nestled on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There are no signs or camping information but it seemed like you can camp almost anywhere along the dirt part of Silver Canyon Road so long as you aren’t blocking any access roads.
Silver Canyon Road is a few miles northeast of Bishop, CA just past the Laws Railroad Museum. Once you pass the museum you keep driving east until you cross over a canal and pass the Laws Poleta Road which heads south. You want to keep going east. The road quickly becomes dirt and that’s the BLM land you can camp on.
We camped by the main dirt road just past a rusted-out sign you can’t miss. We did technically camp on what seemed to be a very old 4×4 road that was once a way to access a few campsites, but just past our trailer there was a ton of broken glass and metal on it, and it isn’t drivable anymore.
It was a fairly narrow road, and we had to back the trailer into it, but it ended up being a great site that was just big enough for our large 32 foot travel trailer. If you keep going down the Silver Canyon Road you will see a few more small pull-offs you can camp on. Eventually, you get to a road that heads north which has more places to camp. There are two large campsites at the beginning of that road but it will quickly start to get narrow if you keep driving down it.
The campsites further up the road are perfect for vans and tent campers but if you have a big rig I would suggest taking one of the two spots at the beginning of the road or turning around before you drive too far.
The small road does make a big loop that ends up on the road by the canal that you cross over after passing the museum. We drove it with our truck but it did get a little beat up by sagebrush and trees because of how narrow it gets. I wouldn’t drive on it while towing the trailer.
There is one more big rig friendly spot we found I think is worth mentioning. Silver Canyon Road turns into a 4×4 trail once it reaches the mountains. Just before it switches from road to trail there is a large area to the right (south) which would be perfect for a group of campers. It’s about 200 feet past the small road with all the campsites I just talked about.
Unfortunately, if you drive up there and someone is parked or camping in it you may have a hard time turning around, especially if you have a big trailer. If it were me I would park by the small camping road, get out, and walk up to check that spot. I think that would be easier than trying to turn around or having to back out.
What It’s Like Camping At Silver Canyon BLM
The first thing you need to understand about Silver Canyon Road is it’s a very popular trail for 4×4 vehicles. Expect lots of trucks, jeeps, side-by-sides, and dirtbike to be zipping by during the day and especially on weekends. The road is a great shortcut to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest, which is a very popular place to visit. I highly recommend it. We didn’t dare the trail with our large truck but you can take the long way through the town of Big Pine if you don’t have a good 4×4 vehicle.
Even though there’s quite a bit of traffic during the day it’s peaceful at night. We stayed there in April so there was quite a bit of wind but it was warm during the day and temperatures were mild at night.
There is a lot of broken glass and other kinds of garbage all over the place but if you’ve ever camped on BLM land near towns you know it’s the same everywhere you go. Just watch where you’re driving and parking. While walking along the road I almost stepped on a baby rattlesnake, be very careful when walking near sagebrush and large rocks they could be hiding under. If you have pets you may want to keep a close eye on them because rattlesnakes are dangerous to them as well.
The views are stunning, especially when you look towards the west. Some of the mountains are at an elevation of 14,000 feet and when your standing at 4,000 feet they just tower over you. It’s hard to capture on camera just how beautiful the mountains are around Bishop California. It doesn’t take long to drive up into them to go exploring.
Like many desert areas in California, there are days when you will see lots of military planes flying around. We were lucky enough to watch some doing the “touch-and-go landing” procedures at the nearby Bishop, CA airport which you can see very clearly from Silver Canyon BLM. It’s cool to see such large aircrafts flying level with the mountains.
The town of Bishop CA is fantastic. There are two ways you can get to the town. One is a faster road which gets you there quickly. There is also a slower country road that you can ride bikes on which goes near the many creeks and rivers around Bishop CA. In town, there are tons of restaurants, a brewery, small shops, and a beautiful park you can visit that even has RV parking.
My Camping Review Of Silver Canyon BLM
Although the area was covered with broken glass and we were constantly being dusted by passing vehicles, we enjoyed our stay at Silver Canyon BLM. The mountains were a big part of what made our stay so wonderful and the town of Bishop, CA is just amazing. We felt very safe staying near it which isn’t always the case when camping on BLM land only a few miles from a town.
I wish they would carve out a few more campsites along the road because there aren’t very many big rig friendly spots. But it seemed like lots of people just pull in for a few days and leave so there should be at least one spot open at all times.
There are lots of small ATV trails all over the place you can mountain bike on and calm evenings sitting around the fire at the base of the Sierra Nevadas mountains are magical. I think fall and spring are the best times to camp there because it does get cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. If you are heading north on your way to Yosemite from the Alabama Hills or on your way to Death Valley from Nevada it’s a great place to stop and rest for a few nights.
I recommend camping at Silver Canyon BLM because Bishop, CA is such a nice town to explore and the people there are friendly. We will be camping there again if we find ourselves passing through.
Have any questions about Silver Canyon BLM near Bishop, CA? Leave a comment below.