Bishop Mule Days spectators will get a huge kick seeing the 20-Mule Team serving as Grand Marshal in the 2011 Bishop Mule Days which takes place May 24-29, 2011. Twenty-mule teams originated in the late 1800s to ferry borax out of the Death Valley.
Ever since 1969 the town of Bishop on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains between Mammoth Lakes and Kings Canyon National Park, has celebrated Mule Days on Memorial Weekend. Part mule show, part test of skills, and part Wild West show, the event is comprised of 14 show events featuring over 700 mules with their trainers, riders and packers. The competitions include Western, youth, English, cattle working, gaited, coon jumping, racing, musical tires, gymkhana, packing, shoeing, chariot racing, team roping and driving.
Mules are offspring of male donkeys and female horses. Mules are very intelligent and are often misunderstood. People perceive them as stubborn, though the animals are most likely avoiding dangerous situations when refusing to move.
In California mules are still used to transport cargo in the Sierra Nevada mountains where there are remote places with no roads. Supplying mountaineering base camps and trail building, over a dozen commercial mule pack stations in the Sierra Nevadas still operate in California.