Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva) is a long-living species of trees that can be found in the higher mountains in the southwest of the United States. These trees are spread in the mountain regions of six states, but the oldest ones are found in California's White Mountains. The Great Basin Bristlecone Pines grow in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. They have a unique ability to survive in extremely harsh and challenging environments.
The bristlecone pines normally grow at the elevation between 1,700 and 3,400 meters. The soil here is very dry, temperatures can drop well below zero, and the winds are unbearable. Due to such weather conditions, the trees grow very slowly, but their wood is very dense and resinous. These trees are resistant to any insect invasions and their average lifespan is around 5,000 years. The exposed wood of pinus longaeva erodes like stone and creates unusual shapes due to constant winds and freezing. These shapes attract a large number of artists and photographers.
These plants grow faster at lower elevations, but those don't achieve the legendary age, strength, and unique shapes. The oldest Bristlecone Pine can be found in the White Mountains being over 5,067 years old, and it continues growing. One more astonishingly old tree (Methuselah) is also located there, near Bishop, it is 4,850 years old now. The exact location of these trees is kept in secret to prevent them from being harmed or damaged. All the trees of this species are protected in all the areas they are found.
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest offers several hiking trails starting from the Schulman Grove Visitor Center, along which the visitors can marvel these ancient trees. Keep in mind that hiking in the White Mountains is not an easy activity. Plan and prepare your trip beforehand. The area is closed for visits during winter and usually opens in mid-May. The hiking season lasts until the end of November weather permitting. You should always check the forecast before you go and consult the visitors center.