Inyo County, California

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County of Inyo
Wildflowers blooming in Death Valley after an unusually wet winter
Wildflowers blooming in Death Valley after an unusually wet winter
Official seal of County of Inyo
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°35′N 117°25′W / 36.583°N 117.417°W / 36.583; -117.417Coordinates: 36°35′N 117°25′W / 36.583°N 117.417°W / 36.583; -117.417
Country  United States
State  California
Region Eastern California
Established March 22, 1866[1]
Named for "dwelling place of the great spirit" in Mono language
County seat Independence
Largest city Bishop
 • Board of Supervisors
 • Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R)
 • State senator Tom Berryhill (R)[3]
 • U. S. rep. Paul Cook (R)
 • Total 10,227 sq mi (26,490 km2)
 • Land 10,181 sq mi (26,370 km2)
 • Water 46 sq mi (120 km2)
Highest elevation[4] 14,505 ft (4,421 m)
Lowest elevation -279 ft (−85 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[5]
 • Total 18,546
 • Estimate (2014)[5] 18,410
 • Density 1.8/sq mi (0.70/km2)
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC−7)
Area codes 442/760
FIPS code 06-027
GNIS feature ID 1804637

Inyo County is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,546.[5] The county seat is Independence.[6]

Inyo County is located on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and southeast of Yosemite National Park in Central California. It contains the Owens River Valley; it is flanked to the west by the Sierra Mountains and to the east by the White Mountains and the Inyo Mountains.

Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Contiguous United States, is on Inyo County's western border (with Tulare County). The Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest place in North America, is in eastern Inyo County. The two points are not visible from each other, but both can be observed from the Panamint Range on the west side of Death Valley, above the Panamint Valley.


Mount Whitney (top) is less than 90 miles (140 km) away from Badwater Basin in Death Valley (bottom)

Present day Inyo county has been the historic homeland for thousands of years of the Mono tribe, Coso people, Timbisha, and Kawaiisu Native Americans. They spoke the Timbisha language and the Mono language with Mono traditional narratives. The descendants of these ancestors continue to live in their traditional homelands in the Owens River Valley and in Death Valley National Park.

Inyo County was formed in 1866 from the territory of the unorganized Coso County created on April 4, 1864 from parts of Mono and Tulare Counties.[7] It acquired more territory from Mono County in 1870 and Kern County and San Bernardino County in 1872.

For many years it has been commonly believed that the county derived its name from the Mono tribe of Native Americans name for the mountains in its former homeland. Actually the name came to be thought of, mistakenly, as the name of the mountains to the east of the Owens Valley when the first whites there asked the local Paiutes what the name of the mountains to the east was.

The local Paiutes responded that that was the land of Inyo. They meant by this that those lands belonged to the Shoshone tribe headed by a man whose name was Inyo. Inyo was the name of the headman of the Panamint band of Paiute-Shoshone people at the time of contact when the first whites, the Manly expedition of 1849, wandered, lost, into Death Valley on their expedition to the gold fields of western California. The Owens Valley whites misunderstood the local Paiute and thought that Inyo was the name of the mountains when actually it was the name of the chief, or headman, of the tribe that had those mountains as part of their homeland.

"Indian George", a fixture of many of the stories of early Death Valley days, was Inyo's son. Indian George's Shoshone name was "Bah-Vanda-Sa-Va-Nu-Kee", which means "The Boy Who Ran Away", a name he was given when he became terrified of the whites and their wheeled wagons and huge buffalo, none of which the Shoshone had ever seen before when they came wandering down Furnace Creek Wash in December 1849. In 1940, when Bah-vanda was around 100 years old, JC Boyles, a Panamint Shoshone who had become educated, came back to the Panamint Valley and interviewed Bah-Vanda at length about the early days of his life, including the events of 1849, and it is in this interview (which can be found in February 1940 issue of The Desert Magazine) that Bah-vanda refers to his father, Inyo.

In order to provide water needs for the growing City of Los Angeles, water was diverted from the Owens River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The Owens River Valley cultures and environments changed substantially. From the 1910s to 1930s the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power purchased much of the valley for water rights and control. In 1941 the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power extended the Los Angeles Aqueduct system further upriver into the Mono Basin.

Natural history[edit]

Inyo County is host to a number of natural superlatives. Among them are:

Owens Valley and the Sierra Escarpment.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 10,227 square miles (26,490 km2), of which 10,181 square miles (26,370 km2) is land and 46 square miles (120 km2) (0.5%) is water.[8] It is the second-largest county by area in California and the ninth-largest in the United States (excluding boroughs and census areas in Alaska).


National protected areas[edit]

There are 22 official wilderness areas in Inyo County that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. This is the second-largest number of any county, exceeded only by San Bernardino County's 35 wilderness areas. Most of these are managed solely by the Bureau of Land Management, but four are integral components of Death Valley National Park or Inyo National Forest and are thus managed by either the National Park Service or the Forest Service. Some of these wilderness areas also extend into neighboring counties.

Except as noted, the wilderness areas are managed solely by the Bureau of Land Management, and lie entirely within Inyo County:

Death Valley National Park[edit]

Death Valley National Park is a mostly arid United States National Park located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in southern Inyo County and northern San Bernardino County in California, with a small extension into southwestern Nye County and extreme southern Esmeralda County in Nevada. In addition, there is an exclave (Devil's Hole) in southern Nye County. The park covers 5,262 square miles (13,630 km2), encompassing Saline Valley, a large part of Panamint Valley, almost all of Death Valley, and parts of several mountain ranges.[9] Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed in 1933, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated a national park, as well as being substantially expanded to include Saline and Eureka Valleys.[9]

It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States. It also features the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and the lowest point in North America at the Badwater Basin, which is 279 feet (85 m) below sea level.[10] It is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include Creosote Bush, Bighorn Sheep, Coyote, and the Death Valley Pupfish, a survivor of much wetter times. Approximately 95% of the park is designated as wilderness.[11] Death Valley National Park is visited annually by more than 770,000 visitors who come to enjoy its diverse geologic features, desert wildlife, historic sites, scenery, clear night skies, and the solitude of the extreme desert environment.

Other parks[edit]



Places by population, race, and income[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,956
1880 2,928 49.7%
1890 3,544 21.0%
1900 4,377 23.5%
1910 6,974 59.3%
1920 7,031 0.8%
1930 6,555 −6.8%
1940 7,625 16.3%
1950 11,658 52.9%
1960 11,684 0.2%
1970 15,571 33.3%
1980 17,895 14.9%
1990 18,281 2.2%
2000 17,945 −1.8%
2010 18,546 3.3%
Est. 2014 18,410 −0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
1790–1960[21] 1900–1990[22]
1990–2000[23] 2010–2014[5]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Inyo County had a population of 18,546. The racial makeup of Inyo County was 13,741 (74.1%) White, 109 (0.6%) African American, 2,121 (11.4%) Native American, 243 (1.3%) Asian, 16 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 1,676 (9.0%) from other races, and 640 (3.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3,597 persons (19.4%).[24]


At the 2000 census,[25] there were 17,945 people, 7,703 households and 4,937 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 per square mile (1/km²). There were 9,042 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 80.1% White, 0.2% Black or African American, 10.0% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.6% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. 12.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.4% were of German, 12.2% English, 10.6% Irish and 5.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 89.2% spoke English and 9.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 7,703 households of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.88.

24.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 23.4% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.

The median household income was $35,006 and the median family income was $44,970. Males had a median income of $37,270 versus $25,549 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,639. About 9.3% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.0% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.


Voter registration[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


Inyo County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012[27] 54.0% 4,340 42.6% 3,422 3.4% 242
2008[28] 53.1% 4,523 43.9% 3,743 2.9% 243
2004 59.1% 5,091 38.9% 3,350 2.0% 175
2000 60.3% 4,713 33.9% 2,652 5.8% 450
1996 51.8% 3,924 34.4% 2,601 13.8% 1,044
1992 43.6% 3,689 31.8% 2,695 24.6% 2,080
1988 64.3% 5,042 33.9% 2,653 1.8% 142
1984 70.3% 5,863 28.3% 2,360 1.4% 115
1980 64.8% 5,201 25.9% 2,080 9.3% 746
1976 58.2% 3,905 39.3% 2,635 2.5% 166
1972 68.1% 4,873 28.0% 2,006 3.9% 280
1968 54.5% 3,641 34.6% 2,314 11.0% 732
1964 46.5% 2,751 53.4% 3,161 0.1% 3
1960 54.7% 2,962 45.1% 2,443 0.3% 15
1956 66.2% 3,524 33.5% 1,782 0.3% 18
1952 68.9% 3,819 30.6% 1,698 0.5% 28
1948 55.8% 2,135 40.2% 1,539 4.0% 153
1944 50.6% 1,699 49.1% 1,647 0.3% 9
1940 44.5% 1,483 54.7% 1,820 0.8% 27
1936 36.5% 912 62.4% 1,560 1.2% 29
1932 30.9% 698 64.6% 1,459 4.5% 101
1928 57.4% 1,206 41.0% 861 1.7% 35
1924 47.5% 950 12.8% 256 39.7% 793
1920 57.2% 1,195 32.7% 682 8.8% 212
Election results from statewide races
Year Office Results
2010 Governor Whitman 48.9 – 43.2%
Lieutenant Governor Maldonado 50.5 – 35.5%
Secretary of State Dunn 51.0 – 37.9%
Controller Strickland 45.6 – 42.7%
Treasurer Walters 47.9 – 43.1%
Attorney General Cooley 56.4 – 31.4%
Insurance Commissioner Villines 51.1 – 34.1%

Inyo is a strongly Republican county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Democrat to win a majority in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

In the California State Legislature, Inyo County is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Republican Tom Berryhill,[3] and the 26th Assembly District, represented by Republican Devon Mathis.[29]

Federally, the county is in California's 8th congressional district, represented by Republican Paul Cook.[30]

On November 4, 2008, Inyo County voted 60.4% for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]


School districts in Inyo County are:

Deep Springs College is a two-year alternative education college in Deep Springs Valley.

Notable locations[edit]


Major highways[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority operates intercity bus service along US 395, as well as local services in Bishop. Service extends south to Ridgecrest (Kern County) and north to Reno, Nevada.


Bishop Airport, Independence Airport, Lone Pine Airport and Shoshone Airport are general aviation airports located near their respective cities. Stovepipe Wells Airport and Furnace Creek Airport are located in Death Valley National Park.


photo of Inyo County Court House
The Inyo County Court House in Independence


Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.


  1. ^ "Inyo County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Inyo County Representatives". County of Inyo. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Communities of Interest — County". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Mount Whitney". Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ California, Theodore Henry Hittell, The general laws of the State of California, from 1850 to 1864, H.H. Bancroft, San Francisco, 1865. p.190. 1865. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b National Park Index (2001–2003), p. 26
  10. ^ "USGS National Elevation Dataset (NED) 1 meter Downloadable Data Collection from The National Map 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) - National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) National Elevation Data Set (NED)". United States Geological Survey. September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ NPS website, "Backcountry Roads"
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  13. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  14. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  18. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Data unavailable
  20. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  24. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  25. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 – Report of Registration. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  27. ^ "Statement of Vote: November 6, 2012, General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Statement of Vote: November 4, 2008, General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  30. ^ "California's 8th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  32. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.

External links[edit]