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When we picture the oldest trees in the world, we think of the giant redwoods. We’d be wrong. The rugged bristlecone forests of the high desert landscapes of the West make the redwoods look like teenagers. For thousands of years these gnarly trees have grown oblivious to the rise and fall of ancient civilizations.
The oldest individual tree in the world lies somewhere in California and is an ancient 5,000-years-old. This tree is located is in the White Mountains, but its exact location along with the location of Methuselah, the second oldest tree, is kept a secret by the Forest Service. Never fear, however, bristlecones of only a few thousand years can be accessed by hikes throughout California, Utah, and Nevada (the photos are from the Bristlecone Trail in the Great Basin National Park).
These trees are rugged individualists that thrive in high elevations with very little water. Seeded in more friendly climates, they die. Put them above 10,000 feet and deprive them of water, they grow. Even after they die, these trees last for thousands more years, impervious to rot and decay.
Its ability to stand for centuries after death is directly related to the adversity of its life. —Interpretive Trail at Great Basin National Park
Some of these trees can be seen in Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Inyo National Forest in California’s White Mountains.
For a an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!