Inyo National Forest
"While on the roughest ledges of crumbling limestone are lowly old giants, five or six feet in diameter that have braved the storms of more than a thousand years. But whether old or young, sheltered or exposed to the wildest gales, this tree is ever found to be irrepressibly and extravagantly picturesque, offering a richer and more varied series of forms to the artist than any other species I have yet seen." - John Muir
Muir's description evokes wonder at one of Inyo's most remarkable scenic areas, the
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
. High in the White Mountains, the land presents a harsh, uninviting ecology that ironically supports the oldest life on the earth, Bristlecone pines that sprouted during the 16th century.
Mono Lake is another fascinating ecology, providing a nurturing environment where over 300 birds reside, nest, or migrate through. Muir was equally evocative on the lake region. "A country of wonderful contrasts, hot deserts bordered by snow-laden mountains, cinders and ashes scattered on glacier-polished pavement, frost and fire working in the making of beauty."
Inyo's wonders are not yet exhausted, however. Hot Creek is another marvel, where water boils up from the bowels of the earth to create a unique environment for fish and wildlife.
Lastly, Bennettville allows one to wander with the ghosts of a town once expected to ride the silver boom to a population of 50,000. The developers making that projection had sugarplums dancing in their heads, but they did leave behind an exciting glimpse of history.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication