Inyo County Landmarks and Sites
Mono Basin and Mono Lake dominate
the northern part of the forest near the town of Lee Vining. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering 60 square
miles; 13 miles east-west by 8 miles north-south. It is an ancient
lake (over 700,000 years old) - one of the oldest lakes in North
America. Mono Lake is two and a half times as salty as seawater.
You would think that nothing could live in such an inhospitable
environment, but the water is teaming with life; brine shrimp and
alkali fly larvae! This attracts millions of birds as they pass
through on their migratory flights. But it's not just the wildlife
that makes Mono Lake so unique; tufa (pronounced too-fa) towers
have formed in the lake making the landscape truly fascinating.
To protect the outstanding geologic, ecological and scenic resources
of Mono Basin, Congress has designated it as the Mono
Basin National Scenic Area.
Here are a few additional popular trips to take advantage of the
East Side Sierra - Inyo National Forest and all a short distance
South of Mammoth Lakes, the Owens Valley runs in a north-south
direction from north of Bishop to south of Lone Pine. To the east of the Owens Valley
stand the Inyo-White mountain ranges.
Mountains are a typical Great Basin Range characterized by a
great rock mass of uninterrupted material that has been thrust upward
10,000 to over 14,000 feet. White Mountain Peak is the third highest
peak in California at 14,250 feet, short of Mount
Whitney by a mere 245 feet. This range differs greatly from
the Sierra range both in structure and in climate. The climate of
the Whites is arid desert and is seemingly an unlikely place to
find the oldest living trees, the Bristlecone
The Bristlecones have survived for more than 40 centuries,
exceeding the oldest giant sequoia by 1,500 years. Their great age
has attracted worldwide interest. Tree ring chronologies, dating
back to 6700 B.C., are used in a variety of research programs, including
the reconstruction of climatic history, measurement of past isotope
concentrations in the atmosphere, and calibration of the radiocarbon
time scale. These trees, besides their scientific value, are beautiful
with their twisted and gnarled trunks, which have withstood the
test of time. If trees could speak, one wonders what stories the
4,692 year-old Methuselah tree would tell!
West of the town of Lone Pine, you may recognize the unusual rock
formations of the Alabama Hills. This area has long been a favorite location for television
and movie filmmakers. With majestic Mount Whitney as a backdrop,
it's no wonder that you see this area frequently on your TV screens.