Inyo National Forest

Last updated
Inyo National Forest
Mount Whitney September 2009.JPG
Hikers can access Mount Whitney, highest point in the contiguous United States, through the Inyo National Forest
Relief map of California.png
Red pog.svg
Map of the United States
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Inyo National Forest (the United States)
LocationEastern Sierra Nevada Range
Nearest city Bishop, California
Coordinates 37°50′N118°59.5′W / 37.833°N 118.9917°W / 37.833; -118.9917 Coordinates: 37°50′N118°59.5′W / 37.833°N 118.9917°W / 37.833; -118.9917 [1]
Area1,903,381 acres (7,702.71 km2) [2]
EstablishedMay 25, 1907 [3]
Governing bodyUSDA / U.S. Forest Service
Website Inyo National Forest
Mount Ritter and Banner Peak along the John Muir Trail Ritter and banner.jpg
Mount Ritter and Banner Peak along the John Muir Trail
The Schulman grove of Bristlecone pines Bristlecone Pines USA Ca.jpg
The Schulman grove of Bristlecone pines

Inyo National Forest is a United States National Forest covering parts of the eastern Sierra Nevada of California and the White Mountains of California and Nevada. The forest hosts several superlatives, including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States; Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada; and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, which protects the oldest living trees in the world. The forest, encompassing much of the Owens Valley, was established by Theodore Roosevelt as a way of sectioning off land to accommodate the Los Angeles Aqueduct project in 1907, making the Inyo National Forest one of the least wooded forests in the U.S. National Forest system. [4]



The forest covers 1,903,381 acres (2,974 sq mi; 7,703 km2) and includes nine designated wilderness areas which protect over 800,000 acres (1,200 sq mi; 3,200 km2). [5] Most of the forest is in California, but it includes about 60,700 acres (95 sq mi; 246 km2) in western Nevada. [6] It stretches from the eastern side of Yosemite to south of Sequoia National Park. Geographically it is split in two, one on each side of the Long Valley Caldera and Owens Valley.

The John Muir Wilderness is a part of the Inyo National Forest and abuts Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park along the crest of the Sierra. The northern part of the Inyo National Forest is preserved as a part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness area, which borders Yosemite National Park. Together, the wilderness areas and parks form one contiguous area of protected wilderness of more than 1.5 million acres (6,100 km2).

The Inyo National Forest was named after Inyo County, California, in which much of the forest resides. The name "Inyo" comes from a Native American word meaning "dwelling place of the great spirit". [7]

The forest spans parts of Inyo, Mono, Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties in California, and Esmeralda and Mineral counties in Nevada.

The forest's headquarters are in Bishop, California, with ranger district offices in Bishop, Lee Vining, Lone Pine, and Mammoth Lakes. [8] The forest was established on May 25, 1907. On July 1, 1945, land from the former Mono National Forest was added. [9]

Wilderness areas

There are nine wilderness areas lying within Inyo NF that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Some of these extend into other National Forests, as indicated:


Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at 11,000 ft (3,400 m) elevation Bristlecone-pine-forest-janine-sprout.jpg
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at 11,000 ft (3,400 m) elevation

The Inyo National Forest contains the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, which protects specimens of Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva). One of these bristlecone pines is "Methuselah", the second oldest known non-clonal living tree on earth at more than 4,839 years old; the oldest known tree (discovered 2013) also lives in the park. [12]

The forest also harbors an estimated 238,000 acres (963 km2) of old-growth forests. [13] The most abundant trees in these forests are lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi).

Filming location

Many movies and television series have been filmed in the Inyo National Forest. Some are Ride the High Country (1962) starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, Nevada Smith (1966) starring Steve McQueen, Will Penny (1968) starring Charlton Heston, Joe Kidd (1972) and High Plains Drifter (1973) starring Clint Eastwood, and the sci-fi film Star Trek: Insurrection (1998).

Inyo National Forest also served as the filming location for the second half of the second episode in the BBC's Walking with Monsters (2005) documentary series, which was set in Early Permian Germany.


Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain A349, Laurel Mountain and Convict Lake, Sierra Nevadas, California, USA, 2011.JPG
Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain

Popular within Inyo National Forest are:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sierra Nevada</span> Mountain range in the Western United States

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin. The vast majority of the range lies in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, an almost continuous chain of mountain ranges that forms the western "backbone" of the Americas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inyo County, California</span> County in California, United States

Inyo County is a county in the eastern central part of the U.S. state of California, located between the Sierra Nevada and the state of Nevada. In the 2020 census, the population was 19,016. The county seat is Independence. Inyo County is on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and southeast of Yosemite National Park in Central California. It contains the Owens River Valley; it is flanked to the west by the Sierra Nevada and to the east by the White Mountains and the Inyo Mountains. With an area of 10,192 square miles (26,400 km2), Inyo is the second-largest county by area in California, after San Bernardino County. Almost one-half of that area is within Death Valley National Park. However, with a population density of 1.8 people per square mile, it also has the second-lowest population density in California, after Alpine County.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bristlecone pine</span> Three species of pine trees native to the Western United States

The term bristlecone pine covers three species of pine tree. All three species are long-lived and highly resilient to harsh weather and bad soils. One of the three species, Pinus longaeva, is among the longest-lived life forms on Earth. The oldest of this species is more than 4,800 years old, making it the oldest known individual of any species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ansel Adams Wilderness</span> Protected wilderness area in California, United States

The Ansel Adams Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada of California, United States. The wilderness spans 231,533 acres (93,698 ha); 33.9% of the territory lies in the Inyo National Forest, 65.8% is in the Sierra National Forest, and the remaining 0.3% covers nearly all of Devils Postpile National Monument. Yosemite National Park lies to the north and northwest, while the John Muir Wilderness lies to the south.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest</span> National forest in Nevada and California, United States

The Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest (HTNF) is the principal U.S. National Forest in the U.S. state of Nevada, and has a smaller portion in Eastern California. With an area of 6,289,821 acres (25,454.00 km2), it is the largest U.S. National Forest outside of Alaska.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kings Canyon National Park</span> National park in California, United States

Kings Canyon National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. Originally established in 1890 as General Grant National Park, the park was greatly expanded and renamed on March 4, 1940. The park's namesake, Kings Canyon, is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile (1,600 m) deep. Other natural features include multiple 14,000-foot (4,300 m) peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, and some of the world's largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park, and both parks are jointly administered by the National Park Service as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Devils Postpile National Monument</span> National monument in California, United States

Devils Postpile National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located near Mammoth Mountain in Eastern California. The monument protects Devils Postpile, an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt, “all closely and perfectly fitted together like a vast mosaic.” The monument encompasses 798 acres (323 ha) and includes two main attractions: the Devils Postpile formation and Rainbow Falls, a waterfall on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. In addition, the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail merge into one trail as they pass through the monument. Excluding a small developed area containing the monument headquarters, visitor center and a campground, the National Monument lies within the borders of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White Mountains (California)</span> Mountain range in California, United States

The White Mountains of California and Nevada are a triangular fault-block mountain range facing the Sierra Nevada across the upper Owens Valley. They extend for approximately 60 mi (97 km) as a greatly elevated plateau about 20 mi (32 km) wide on the south, narrowing to a point at the north, with elevations generally increasing south to north. The range's broad southern end is near the community of Big Pine, where Westgard Pass and Deep Springs Valley separate it from the Inyo Mountains. The narrow northern end is at Montgomery Pass, where U.S. Route 6 crosses. The Fish Lake Valley lies east of the range; the southeast part of the mountains are separated from the Silver Peak Range by block faulting across the Furnace Creek Fault Zone, forming a feeder valley to Fish Lake Valley. The range lies within the eastern section of the Inyo National Forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Muir Wilderness</span> Protected area in the Sierra Nevada of California, US

The John Muir Wilderness is a wilderness area that extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada of California for 90 miles (140 km), in the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. Established in 1964 by the Wilderness Act and named for naturalist John Muir, it encompasses 652,793 acres (2,641.76 km2). The wilderness lies along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra from near Mammoth Lakes and Devils Postpile National Monument in the north, to Cottonwood Pass near Mount Whitney in the south. The wilderness area also spans the Sierra crest north of Kings Canyon National Park, and extends on the west side of the park down to the Monarch Wilderness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inyo Mountains</span> Mountain range in California, United States

The Inyo Mountains are a short mountain range east of the Sierra Nevada in eastern California in the United States. The range separates the Owens Valley to the west from Saline Valley to the east, extending for approximately 70 miles (110 km) south-southeast from the southern end of the White Mountains, from which they are separated by Westgard Pass, to the east of Owens Lake.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sierra National Forest</span> National forest in California, United States

Sierra National Forest is a U.S. national forest located on the western slope of central Sierra Nevada in Central California and bounded on the northwest by Yosemite National Park and the south by Kings Canyon National Park. The forest is known for its mountain scenery and beautiful lakes. Forest headquarters are located in Clovis, California. There are local ranger district offices in North Fork and Prather.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sequoia National Forest</span> National forest in the U.S. state of California

Sequoia National Forest is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The U.S. National Forest is named for the majestic Giant Sequoia trees which populate 38 distinct groves within the boundaries of the forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tahoe National Forest</span> U.S. National Forest in California

Tahoe National Forest is a United States National Forest located in California, northwest of Lake Tahoe. It includes the 8,587-foot (2,617 m) peak of Sierra Buttes, near Sierra City, which has views of Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. It is located in parts of six counties: Sierra, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, Plumas and El Dorado. The forest has a total area of 871,495 acres. Its headquarters is in Nevada City, California. There are local ranger district offices in Camptonville, Foresthill, Sierraville and Truckee.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest</span> Protected area in the White Mountains, Inyo County, California

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thousand Island Lake</span> Lake in the state of California, United States

Thousand Island Lake is a large alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada, within the Ansel Adams Wilderness in eastern Madera County, California.

The South Sierra Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Southern Sierra Nevada, in eastern California. It is located 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Bakersfield, and is southwest of Owens Lake and Olancha.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Trout Wilderness</span> Protected wilderness area in California, United States

The Golden Trout Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County and Inyo County, California. It is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Porterville within Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mono Hot Springs</span>

Mono Hot Springs is a summer resort and campground at a group of hot springs in Fresno County, central California. It is located within the Sierra National Forest, 70 miles (110 km) northeast of Fresno via California State Route 168.

The protected areas of the Sierra Nevada, a major mountain range located in the U.S. states of California and Nevada, are numerous and highly diverse. Like the mountain range itself, these areas span hundreds of miles along the length of the range, and over 14,000 feet of elevation from the lowest foothills to the summit of Mount Whitney.


  1. "Inyo National Forest". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  3. "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 28, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  4. Reisner, Marc (1993). Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water . New York: Penguin Books. ISBN   0140178244.
  5. "Inyo National Forest Home Page". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  6. "Inyo National Forest". U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  7. "Frequently Asked Questions". Inyo National Forest, U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  8. "USFS Ranger Districts by State" (PDF). United Four Wheel Drive Associations. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  9. Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005). "National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Forest History Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 28, 2012. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  10. "Ansel Adams Wilderness acreage breakdown, Wilderness. net". Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  11. John Muir Wilderness acreage breakdown,
  12. "Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research OldList" . Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  13. Warbington, Ralph; Beardsley, Debby (2002). "2002 Estimates of old growth forests on the 18 National Forests of the Pacific Southwest Region". United States Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region.