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Inyo County is located in east-central Californiamarker in the southwestern United Statesmarker, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and southeast of Yosemite National Parkmarker. As of 2000 the county had a population of 17,945. The county seat is Independencemarker.

Mount Whitneymarker, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, is located on Inyo County's western border (with Tulare County). Badwater in Death Valley National Parkmarker, the lowest point in North America, is also located in the county. The two points are not visible from each other, but both can be observed from the Panamint Rangemarker on the west side of Death Valley.


Inyo County was formed in 1866 from parts of Monomarker and Tularemarker Counties.

The county derived its name from the Native American name for the mountains in its area. The meaning of the word inyo is "dwelling place of the great spirit."

Natural History

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 (26,488 km²), of which 10,203 sq mi (26,426 km²) is land and 24 sq mi (62 km²) is water. Relatively, it is a very large county. It is the second largest in Californiamarker and the tenth largest in the nation (excluding boroughs and census areas in Alaskamarker).

Cities and towns

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Transportation Infrastructure

Major highways

County Routes

Inyo County Route J41

Public Transportation

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


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


As of the census of 2000, there were 17,945 people, 7,703 households, and 4,937 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people 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 80.06% White, 0.16% Black or African American, 10.04% Native American, 0.91% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 4.60% from other races, and 4.15% from two or more races. 12.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.4% were of German, 12.2% English, 10.6% Irish and 5.0% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000. 89.2% spoke English and 9.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 7,703 households out 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.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 5.80% 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 income for a household in the county was $35,006, and the median income for a family 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 9.30% of families and 12.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.00% of those under age 18 and 8.30% of those age 65 or over.


Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 52.9% 3,833 44.3% 3,208 2.8% 202
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% 736
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 10.9% 732
1964 46.5% 2,751 53.4% 3,161 0.1% 3
1960 54.6% 2,962 45.1% 2,443 0.3% 15

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.

Inyo is part of California's 25th congressional district, which is held by Republican Buck McKeon. In the state legislature, Inyo is part of the 34th Assembly district, which is held by Republican Connie Conway, and the 18th Senate district, which is held by Republican Roy Ashburn.

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

California marshal

Inyo County has one of the only two remaining Elected Marshal's Office in California despite the law passed by voters in 2000 abolishing the Municipal Courts and the accompanying marshal's offices. Floyd J Barton is the current Elected (June-2008) Marshal of Inyo County.

San Benito County has the other remaining Elected Marshal's Office. Robert Paschall is the current Elected Marshal of San Benito County.


School district in Inyo County are:

Notable locations



Death Valley National Park

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 Countymarker in Californiamarker, with a small extension into southwestern Nye Countymarker and extreme southern Esmeralda Countymarker in Nevadamarker. In addition, there is an exclave (Devil's Holemarker) in southern Nye County. The park covers , encompassing Saline Valleymarker, a large part of Panamint Valley, almost all of Death Valleymarker, and parts of several mountain ranges. 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 Salinemarker and Eurekamarker Valleys.

It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States. It also features the second-lowest point in the Western Hemispheremarker and the lowest point in North America at Badwater, which is below sea level. 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. 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.


  1. National Park Index , p. 26
  2. NPS website, "Backcountry Roads"

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