The Inyo National Forest is home to some of the world’s rarest wildlife. These “endemic species” can be found nowhere else on Earth:

  • Sierra Bighorn Sheep
  • Black Toad (Southern White Mountains)
  • Golden Trout (Inyo National Forest Golden Trout Wilderness)
  • Slender Salamander (lives in only 15 isolated desert springs in the Inyo Mountains
  • Lyell Salamander (is found in talus fields of high Sierra peaks)


Three subspecies of bighorn sheep live in the United States.  You can see two of them within minutes of one another in Inyo County, California.  Flocks of Desert Bighorn and Sierra Bighorn can be seen from Pine Creek and Silver Canyon roads, east and west of Bishop. To find the Desert Bighorn, follow U.S. 6 north from Bishop to Silver Canyon Road.  At Laws, continue east over dirt and gravel roads into the White Mountains.  You will cross small streams, so a 4WD vehicle is recommended.  Watch for the sheep high on rock and brush-covered hillsides.  Sierra Bighorn similarly inhabit Eastern Sierra canyons.  Follow Pine Creek Road through Round Valley.  In the last couple of miles before the road ends, look up to the north to see the buff-colored coats of the Sierra Bighorn Sheep as they graze among pines and brush.  You will be surprised how well they blend into the landscape and how difficult it is, at first, to see them.  With practice, it becomes easier.  There are no formal tours to see the bighorn, though if you call sheep researcher Dr. John Wehausen in advance, (760) 873-4563, you may be able to join one of his infrequent bighorn spotting trips.  Additionally, the Bishop office of the California Department of Fish and Game can explain how best to see the elusive bighorns.

Some tips:  the Bighorn will not let you get closer than a couple of hundred yards, so bring powerful binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens and enjoy seeing them from a distance.


The Eastern Sierra offers dramatic landscapes ideal for bird watching in California. Study a surprising variety of wildlife in Inyo County along the stunning 200-mile Eastern Sierra Birding Trail. Bird species you’re likely to see in Inyo County include golden and bald eagles, gray-crowned rosy finches, American dippers, Piñon jays, warbling vireos, sage thrashers, wood ducks, long-eared owls, shorebirds, and migratory waterfowl. Learn more with the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society.

Birding –  free Eastern Sierra Birding Trail Map

    • Round Valley Loop – rough-legged ferruginous and red-tailed hawks, golden and bald eagles, 15 species of diurnal raptors, long-eared owl
    • Pleasant Valley Reservoir – diving ducks, rock wren, Barrow’s goldeneye, common goldeneye, American dipper, Wilson’s snipe
    • Bishop City Park – waterfowl, gulls, wood duck, Ross’ goose, red-shouldered hawk
    • Sabrina Lake, North Lake, South Lake – gray-crowned rosy-finch, blue grouse, house wren, hermit thrush, mountain bluebird, waterfowl
    • While Mountains & Tollhouse Spring – chukar, pinyon jay, broad-tailed costas, calliope hummingbird, black-throated gray warbler, juniper titmouse, gray flycatcher, mountain chickadee, brewer’s sparrow, nuthatches, jays, nutcrackers, warblers, finches, crossbills
    • Glacier Lodge – white-headed woodpecker, American dipper, green-tailed towhee, fox sparrows
    • Fish Springs Loop – ferruginous and red-tailed hawks, sparrows, mountain bluebird, ducks, rails, wrens
    • Fort Independence Loop – western taniger, black-headed grosbeak, lazuli bunting, warblers
    • Oak Creek Campground – acorn woodpeckers, California quail, bushtit, western scrub jay, ruby-crowned kinglet, Townsend’s solitaire, golden eagle
    • Onion Valley – blue grouse, mountain quail, mountain bluebirds, MacGillivray’s warbler, fox sparrow, gray-crowned rosy finch, hermit thrush, hairy woodpecker, green-tailed towhee
    • Lone Pine NGRR, Owens Valley – loggerhead shrike, greater roadrunner, LeConte thrasher, Virginia rail, sora, pied-billed grebe, ducks
    • Tinemaha Reservoir – tundra swan, bald eagle, long-tailed duck, parasitic Jaeger, Thayer’s and Sabine’s gulls, arctic tern, ruddy turnstone, mountain plover, red knot, sanderling, stilt sandpiper, northern waterthrush, American redstart, winter wren
    • Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery – acorn woodpecker, western scrub and Steller’s jays, belted kingfisher, Lewis’ woodpecker
    • Baxter Pass Trailhead – Lazuli bunting, western tanager, olive-sided flycatcher, warbling vireo, black-headed grosbeak, Townsend’s solitaire, dark-eyed junco, northern pygmy owl, golden eagle
    • Billy Lake – LeConte’s thrasher, sage sparrow, loggerhead shrike, greater roadrunner, sage thrasher, northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, golden eagle, turkey vulture, barn, cliff and northern rough-winged swallows, least bittern
    • Whitney Portal – Steller’s jay, Clark’s nutcracker, mountain chickadee, brown creeper, pygmy, red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, red-breasted sap-sucker, American dipper, white-headed woodpecker, blue grouse, northern pygmy owl
    • Pastures and Sewer Pond Loop – white-faced ibis, great, snowy and cattle egrets, long-billed curlew, whimbrel, willet, western kingbird, blue grosbeak, western meadowlark, black-chinned hummingbird, lazuli bunting, bobolink, loggerhead shrike, red-tailed hawk, barn and great horned owl, ferruginous hawk, merlin, prairie falcon, American kestrel, northern harrier, horned lark, mountain bluebird
    • Hogback Creek – phainopepla, yellow-breasted chat, Bullock’s oriole, blue-gray gnatcatcher, Nuttall’s woodpecker, black-headed and blue grosbeaks, mourning dove, song sparrow, northern harrier, California quail, spotted towhee, chukar, loggerhead shrike, sora, Virginia rail, yellow-billed cuckoo
    • Diaz Lake – American white pelican, red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, great-tailed grackle, great blue heron, Nuttall’s woodpecker, mountain bluebird, black phoebe
    • Horseshoe Meadow – American kestrel, mountain bluebird, Williamson’s sapsucker, white-crowned sparrow, dark-eyed junco, blue grouse, green-tailed towhee, northern goshawk
    • Elk Seep – prairie falcon, northern harrier, American avocet, black-necked stilt, least and western sandpipers
    • Cottonwood Marsh – American avocet, snowy plover, long-billed curlew, Wilson’s snipe, American bittern
    • Dirty Socks – American avocet, least and western sandpipers, Virginia rail, sora, Cinnamon teal duck, greater yellowlegs
    • Cactus Flat – Scott’s oriole, cactus wren, ladder-backed woodpecker, common poorwill, house finch, black-throated sparrow, northern mockingbird, ash-throated flycatcher
    • Haiwee Reservoir – common, red-throated and Pacific loons, bald eagle, Philadelphia vireo, Prothonotary warbler, black-throated blue warbler
    • Sage Flat – oak titmouse, California towhee, band-tailed pigeon, California thrasher


The Round Valley north of Bishop (Sherwin Grade) supports one of the largest herds of mule deer in California. The best viewing occurs between November and March as hundreds of deer assemble on this, their winter range.