Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Coordinates: 37°23′8.4″N 118°10′43.9″W / 37.385667°N 118.178861°W / 37.385667; -118.178861
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Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
The Methuselah Grove trail in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Map showing the location of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Map showing the location of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
LocationWhite Mountains, Inyo County, California, United States
Coordinates37°23′8.4″N 118°10′43.9″W / 37.385667°N 118.178861°W / 37.385667; -118.178861
Area43.75 sq mi (113.3 km2)[1]: a 
Max. elevation3,410 m (11,190 ft)
Min. elevation3,000 m (9,800 ft)
AdministratorUnited States Forest Service

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California.


The forest is east of the Owens Valley, high on the eastern face of the White Mountains in the upper Fish Lake-Soda Spring Watershed, above the northernmost reach of the Mojave Desert into Great Basin ecotone.[2] The forest's mountain habitat is in the Central Basin and Range ecoregion (EPA) and Taiga and Boreal forest ecoregion (WWF). The Patriarch Grove is the source of Cottonwood Creek, a designated Wild and Scenic River.


Pinus longaeva – bristlecone pines in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, California

The Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) trees grow between 9,800 and 11,000 feet (3,000–3,400 m) above sea level, in xeric alpine conditions, protected within the Inyo National Forest.[3][4] Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) also grow in the forest.


The Methuselah Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is the location of the "Methuselah", a Great Basin bristlecone pine that is 4,855 years old.[5] It is considered to be the world's oldest known and confirmed living non-clonal organism. It was temporarily superseded by a 5,062 year old bristlecone pine discovered in 2010. In May 2017 however, Dr. Peter Brown removed this tree from his database of old trees because the tree and core sample could not be found.[6] "Methuselah" is not marked in the forest, to ensure added protection from vandals.[7]


The Schulman and Patriarch groves are located about 30 mi (48 km) from Bishop, California.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is generally open from mid-May through the end of November, weather permitting.[4]

  • Schulman Grove and Schulman Grove Visitor Center – daily interpretive talks and natural history lectures mid-June through Labor Day, and hiking trails.
  • Patriarch Grove – home of the world's largest bristlecone pine, the Patriarch Tree, and a self-guided nature trail.

Methuselah Grove trail[edit]

The Methuselah Grove trail starts from the visitor center at 9,846 feet (3,001 m) and makes a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) loop that includes the side valley of the Methuselah Grove where the oldest tree lives, a high section looking out eastward over Nevada's basin-and-range region, and side trails to old mining sites. Numbered natural-history markers are explained by a booklet.


On September 4, 2008, an arsonist set fire to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center and several bristlecone pines. The building and all the exhibits within were destroyed. Activities to rebuild the center began the next day and are now complete.[4][8][9]


  1. ^ Miller, Leonard. "The Ancient Bristlecone Pine". The Bristlecone site. Archived from the original on 4 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-10. a. Discovery Archived 2010-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Bryce, S. A.; et al. "Ecoregions of Nevada" (poster). Reston, Virginia: USGS. Retrieved January 12, 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Inyo N.F.-Bristlecone Forest Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine . accessed 8/30/2010
  4. ^ a b c NFS: Bristlecone Natural History Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine . accessed 8/30/2010
  5. ^ "Pinus longaeva". Gymnosperm Database. March 15, 2007. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  6. ^ "Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research OldList". Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  7. ^ SCHLOSSBERG, TATIANA. "Celebrate Earth Day With a 4,800-Year-Old Tree (If You Can Find It)". NY Times. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Fire claims Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest visitor center". Los Angeles Times. September 6, 2008. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008.
  9. ^ Woods, Tom (2009-04-10). "Arson Charges for Schulman Visitor Center Fire". Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2012-01-27.

External links[edit]

  • [1] – Inyo National Forest official Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest site
  • [2] – Inyo National Forest: The Natural History of the Bristlecone Pines