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Photograph the Bristlecone Pine Forest

Inyo County, California

based on 3 reviews


Added by Matt Purciel

Photograph some of the oldest trees in the world. Some of these living trees are over 4000 years of age with their twisted and colored wood. 

To get to the goods head east out of Big Pine, CA  on Hwy 168 into the mountains for 13 miles. Turn left (north) on White Mountain Road to the Bristlecone Pine Forest. The road winds through a beautiful forest of Pinyon Pines and Western Junipers and leads to amazing views of the rugged Sierras. In 10 miles, you'll turn right to arrive at the Schulman Grove parking lot. There are plenty of bristlecone pines to shoot in this area. 

Beyond Schulman Grove lies the remote Patriarch Grove, 12-miles north on a good quality dirt road.

Both Patriarch and Schulman Groves are best to shoot in the early morning light and sunset. There are plenty of unique trees to photograph. Make sure to allow for plenty of time to get your winning composition!

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Easy Parking

Photograph the Bristlecone Pine Forest Reviews

This is once-in-lifetime experience. If you are in the area, it is a must see. If you are not in the area, it is well worth the drive. The trees are incredible, and being in the grove brings a sense of calm & reflection that few places on Earth can provide. You will not regret this. Side note: We brought our two year old- she was definitely carried after about 10 minutes on the easiest trail. Steep inclines, and “beginner” here means “you should already have some hiking experience or you may panic at how steep the hill is” Lol. Regardless, the experience is incredible and unforgettable.

After hiking/summiting nearby White Mountain Peak, I stopped by the Shulman Visitors center, and did the Discovery loop which is easy and about 1 mile long. The Bristlecones are utterly amazing! Some over 4,000 years old! Hard to fathom that some of these guys were mere saplings while the Egyptians were building the great pyramids! Many look like they were straight out of a Harry Potter movie! Had I more time, I would have taken the longer hike loops. Definitely want to go back again and also visit the Patriarch Grove further to the north.

Go. Go, go, go. I've been passing this turn-off since I was a kid on family trips to Mammoth and finally did something about it at the end of a highway 395 roadtrip this week. The first 24 miles of road off 395 up into the White Mountains is paved but steep - there's a gain of 7,000 ft in those 24 miles. So take it slow and hold your breath going around some of those bends. That will get you to the visitor center and Schulman Grove. There are three trails from the section; I was short on time so did the 1-mile Discovery trail. Blown away. A religious experience (coming from someone who doesn't subscribe to that sort of thing). I've never felt to small, so insignificant, so close to whoever is up there. Breathtaking, tear-inducing beauty and science all rolled into one. They and plaques every so often to explain what you were looking at and benches to sit and contemplate life while admiring the beauty of the eastern sierras across the way. I can't wait to go back and take the dirt road that continues further in to explore some more. Re: weather - sunny out but pretty windy in mid-October. Prepare for anything and have sunscreen with you and bring water. Especially if doing anything longer than the one-miler.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Camp in Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Schulman Grove and Methuselah Grove Loop

Methuselah Trail

Trout Fishing in the Owens River

Patriarch Grove Trail

Climb White Mountain Peak