Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest: Sierra View
After exploring and getting stuck in the Volcanic Tablelands north of Bishop, the boyfriend and I still had some time to kill. We drove south to Big Pine and out to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Ty at Wilson’s Eastside Sports told us of great views here, so we drove up to see where the road would take us. Fortunately for us, White Mountain Road was open to the Visitor Center and Schulman Grove.
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest grows in the xeric alpine environment in the White Mountains. This forest contains one of the oldest non-clonal, or asexually reproducing, living organisms in the world. The bristlecone pines are magical, and incredible things.
The White Mountain Road is south of Bishop outside of Big Pine. A one-way trip up towards the Visitor Center will take about 45 minutes out of Big Pine. It’s twisty and windy, but it has some spectacular scenery. Even if the road is closed at higher elevations, a short drive up into the mountains grants you breathtaking vistas of the Eastern Sierra.
Visitors can opt to camp at the Grandview Campground a little ways down from the Visitor Center, or stop at the aptly signed Sierra View, for one of the best and easiest to achieve views of Eastern Sierra. If you’re not too familiar with the peaks you’re looking at, a sign points each one out, from Mt. Whitney, though it’s not visible, up to 100 miles north. There’s a little picnic table if you want to stop for a snack. This spot is at 9,000 feet, so don’t be alarmed if you’re huffing and puffing after coming from the Owens Valley. From the parking lot to the best, unobstructed lookout point, it’s about a .25 mile walk. If you’re not feeling up to it, the parking lot is still a great place to take it all in.
Entrance to the area is $6 per vehicle.