Very Old Trees

Our destination was finally reached, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest .
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, located in the White Mountains of California, is home to the oldest known living trees on earth, the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Pinus longaeva. The oldest tree, nicknamed "Methuselah", is more than 4,750 years old, and is not marked to ensure added protection from vandals. The grove lies in the Inyo National Forest, between 3,000-3,300 m (10,000-11,000 feet) above sea level.
On September 4, 2008, a fire destroyed the visitor center and "three or four" bristlecone pines.
(source: Wikipedia)

Weather here is cold and dry. The average max.-min. temperatures range from about 70°F (21°C) to 37°F (3°C) at the base, and from 36°F (2°C) to -26° (-32°C) in the alpine zone. Precipitation averages 4 in. (10 cm) at its base to 20 in. (50 cm) mostly as snow, along the crest. Due to the varied topography, precipitation can and does differ greatly in localized areas. Winds blowing along the crest can blow most of the snow from some areas, leaving little for trees like the bristlecone at the treeline - 11,200' (3414m). Thunder and lightning storms occur frequently in the high country. Winds are strong at the crest, both summer and winter. The dry climate and high altitude make this region a rare environment. The rapid changes in elevation create abrupt habitat and species changes. The soil quality is poor, and at its poorest in the alpine zone. This factor combined with a short growing season, results in sparse and delicate flora. Recovery from disturbance is slow, said to take more than 100 years! This is truly an area that one must be careful in preserving. Driving along Hwy 395, and looking up at the White-Inyo range, it's appearance is somewhat barren and inhospitable, but once there we are gifted with sights and beauty unimagined from below. In August the wildflowers are abundant, the night sky clear and breathtaking; and it is so quiet here you can actually hear the wing beats of small birds! The bristlecones are reason enough to travel here, and with the abundant flora, wildlife, and vistas, we are compelled to return. (I totally agree and will return the next chance I get)

Reaching the White Mountains and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest from Bishop, California is about a 1 hour drive. Travel south (14 mi / 23km) on hwy 395 to Big Pine, then east up hwy 168 to the White Mountain Road (13 mi / 21km). Here we turn left and continue the remaining 7 miles (11km) up to Schulman Grove at 10,100' (3048m). Several vista turnouts are located on the White Mt. Road, the most spectactular being Sierra View Overlook.

The trip is surprisingly simple considering the rate of climb, but large mobile homes or trailers should not attempt this journey because of the tight curves and grade.
An excellent map to have on hand is the AAA "Guide to Eastern Sierra".

An additional 13 miles (21km) beyond Schulman is required to reach Patriarch Grove (11,200ft / 3414m). This road is gravel, rough in places, but can be easily done with the family car. We are rewarded with sights you cannot find elsewhere. Patriarch Grove is located in a large open bowl, exposed to wind and weather. And yes, along with the astounding trees and landscape, you will find toilet facilities here, picnic tables and an outdoor display case.
Also check this site, this site, and this site for more information.


  1. Very interesting destination! I would enjoy taking photos there.

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  2. Fantastic photos of the trees!
    "Methuselah", 4750 years old, is really astonishing.
    Great post, Maria.

  3. these trees are ancient! pang lord of the rings. =p

  4. the fire that caused such destruction is really alarming knowing that the trees there are believed to be the oldest.

    that's my type of hike. curve roads surely means this roadtrip is very beautiful but yes RVs might have a hard time.

  5. 4750 y.o. @_@ wow... how i wish to meet the tree and ask how he was able to survive so i can share it to the trees here in the Philippines.. just kidding... ^_^

    they say it's "the oldest known non-clonal organism still alive..."

  6. interesting how these old trees survived the harsh time. they look all solitude to me.

  7. Wow...interesting !
    More than 4000 years old trees...that is simply amazing...

  8. A wonderful place to document with your fine photos.
    I would like to see these in person. It's amazing something could survive over such a long time.
    Nice post!

  9. Wow. Trees that are thousands of years old must be a marvel to look at. I'd love to visit that place someday.

  10. Beautiful sceneries! Those old trees are prehistoric, living even during the time of dinosaurs!

  11. It's incredible how old that tree is. I hope those trees will always be protected.


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