Standing as ancient sentinels high in the White Mountains of Inyo National Forest in California at 10,000 feet above sea level, the Great Basin bristlecone pines rank as the oldest living trees in the world at about 5,000 years old and still growing.
The trees grow in the white, alkaline soil for which the White Mountains are named. The Dolomite in the soil, makes it challenging for anything to grow, providing a solitary home for Great Basin bristlecone pine trees.
In wet years, the trees produce a new, lightly colored layer of wood just under the bark. In years of drought, the new wood is dark in color. The different colors of wood form a distinguishable tree ring, which scientists study to understand climate change.
The area’s dry lunar-like landscape, altitude, and rugged remoteness make for an adventurous journey for the family, in addition to the scientific value.