Great Basin Bristlecone Pines

Bristlecone Pines

Ancient bristlecone pine trees are a major attraction in Great Basin National Park. Some of the trees are thought to be over 5,000 years old and are considered to be among the oldest living things on earth.

The trees are amazing. The old trees are gnarled, with broken limbs and contorted shapes. They grow on rocky ridges just below the tree line, where they are exposed to harsh conditions. They grow slowly and the wood is very dense.

Some seeds are occasionally carried down to lower elevations, where conditions would seem to be more favorable. Trees in those locations grow more rapidly, but they do not reach the advanced age or develop the fascinating twisted shapes that make the species legendary.

An easy hiking trail on Wheeler Peak allows park visitors to walk into the ancient bistlecone forest.

Park regulations are drafted to protect the trees and visitors are asked to treat them with respect. Don't climb on them or twist or break off branches.

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