Top Ten Ancient Forests of the United States

Great Basin, Nevada

Bristlecone pine is the oldest of the old. A 4,600-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California is the oldest known living tree. These trees are remarkable for their great age and their ability to survive harsh growing conditions. These ancient trees grow slowly, one branch at a time. Even their needles can live up to 40 years. Often, a tree will appear nearly dead, with only a thin strip of living tissue clinging to a gnarled, naked trunk. Ordinary trees would decay under those conditions, but bristlecone wood has a high resin content that prevents rot. Instead, wind and ice crystals erode the wood like a stone.

While the bristlecone pine range includes the California's White and Inyo Mountain Range (there are trees in Inyo National Forest) perhaps the best place to see them is at Great Basin National Park, which has the three largest surviving stands.

More on Great Basin National Park


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