The Inyo National Forest has been mentioned in several of my previous posts, as it’s a place we’ve visited every summer for the past three years. Contained within the Inyo National Forest are some of the prettiest places in the world, with interesting and varied ecology, so I figured I’d share more about one of my favorite destinations.
The Inyo National Forest spans across the Eastern Sierras in California and along the California-Nevada border. In it are the highest mountains in California, the tallest point in Nevada, some of the oldest trees on the planet, and many more natural wonders. It is extremely popular among hikers as it contains portions of the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trails, as well as Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. My boys have logged over 100 miles backpacking in this forest, and while the girls and I haven’t gone quite that far, we have enjoyed many adventures in this amazing place.
There are many points of interest within the Inyo National Forest. These are only a few:
Mt. Whitney- At an elevation of 14,505 feet, it is the highest point in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and in the lower 48 United States. The summit is accessible to hikers with valid permits via Whitney Portal just west of the town of Lone Pine. It is also accessible through Sequoia National Park, however this trek adds mileage. The cool thing about it though is that a hiker would traverse from the Western Sierras to the Eastern. For Scouts, they can earn a special patch upon completion. I haven’t yet hiked Mt. Whitney myself, but I hope to do so in the coming summers. Our Scout troop has in years past, and I’ve heard that it’s a truly amazing experience.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest- This area protects some of the oldest living trees in the world, the Pinus longaeva, or the bristlecone pine. These gnarly-looking pines have survived and thrived under the harsh conditions of the White Mountains. I shared about a visit Emily and I took to see the ancient bristlecones here. The trek was a fun, albeit short, experience, and one that caused me to meditate on the brevity of my time here on earth in relation to the ancient trees surrounding me.
There are some beautiful lakes in the Inyo National Forest. Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Convict Lake are just to name a few. There are endless opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and fishing in the literal hundreds of Inyo’s lakes. My son caught his first fish in the Inyo National Forest, and there are some great stories attached to that experience this past summer, one being that before he caught the fish, he caught his brother. Oh the stories they can tell!
Like the water recreation, the camping opportunities are endless. The girls and I camped at Aspen Grove, right along the Tioga Pass just outside Yosemite. It was the perfect base for our Yosemite adventures as it was a mere 15 minutes from the park. There is group camping, RV camping, and ‘regular’ campgrounds across the Inyo National Forest. However you choose to camp, and wherever you decide to go, you can be sure that adventure awaits. Just be sure to check cost, permit requirements, and other limitations before you travel.
The view from the picnic table at our campsite: Lee Vining Creek
Hope you’ll make the Inyo National Forest a stop for your outdoor adventures. There are many to be had here. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Inyo adventure will bring. Happy trails!
For more information, including permitting, camping, and the ecology of the forest, visit U.S. Forest Service- Inyo. A pdf visitor guide can be found here.
Photo credits: Emily Haas
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