Description - The Inyo National Forest is a unique and special area of public land located along the eastern edge of California and the Sierra Nevada. It extends 165 miles, from the Mono Lake area, south beyond the Owens Valley.
Copyright: Jerry Marceron-USDA Forest Service
Mono Lake, Inyo National Forest
The Inyo National Forest is divided into 2 zones, the North Zone and the South Zone. These zones are each divided into 2 Ranger Districts. The Mono Lake Ranger District and the Mammoth Ranger District comprise the North Zone and the White Mountain Ranger District and the Mt. Whitney Ranger District comprise the South Zone. Each Ranger District has a Ranger Station and / or Visitor Center to meet visitors' needs.
The Inyo National Forest also has a Supervisor's Office, based in Bishop, where the Forest Supervisor has an office. Also in this office are many specialists that cover the entire Forest rather than only one District. Together the Ranger Districts and the Supervisor's Office oversee the entire Inyo National Forest.
- The Inyo National Forest is a unique and special area of public land which includes 1.9 million acres of pristine lakes, fragile meadows, winding streams, rugged Sierra Nevada peaks, and arid Great Basin Mountains. Elevations range from 4,000 to 14,495 feet, providing diverse habitats that support vegetation patterns ranging from semiarid deserts to alpine fell-fields.
There are many specially classified areas within the Inyo National Forest, including the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. There are seven designated Wilderness Areas: Hoover, Ansel Adams, John Muir, Golden Trout, Inyo Mountains, Boundary Peak, and South Sierra.
The Devils Postpile National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, is also located within the Inyo National Forest in the Reds Meadow Area west of Mammoth Lakes. In addition, the Inyo is home to the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney (14,495 feet), pictured above, and is adjacent to the lowest point in North America (Death Valley National Park).
The northern part of the forest is dominated by the Mono Basin and Mono Lake located 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 sea water.
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 stands the Inyo-White mountain ranges. The White 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. The climate of the Whites is arid desert and is seemingly an unlikely place to find the oldest living trees, the Bristlecone Pines.
West of the town of Lone Pine, you may recognize the unusual rock formations of the Alabama Hills. With majestic Mt. Whitney as a backdrop, this area has long been a favorite location for television and movie film makers.
Recreation - The Inyo National Forest provides a variety of recreational opportunities for more than 5 million visitors each year, year 'round.
Camping and fishing attracts thousands of visitors during the summer months.
Beginner to expert anglers can try their luck fishing at more than 400 lakes and 1,100 miles of streams that provide habitat for Golden Trout, German Brown and Rainbow Trout.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area becomes a summer mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts as they ride the challenging Kamikaze trail from the top of the 11,053 foot Mammoth Mountain or one of the other many trails that transect the front country of the forest.
Thirty-one trailheads provide access to the 1,308,477 acres of wilderness backcountry for hikers seeking to escape into primitive and pristine areas.
There are 33 interpretive sites of historical or natural history interest.
One hundred and seven campgrounds and picnic sites provide more than 2,200 family campsites, 78 group campsites and many picnic areas.
Many resort facilities and pack stations operate under special use permits from the forest to serve additional visitor needs.
The Inyo offers a full range of winter activities. Mammoth Mountain / June Mountain Ski Areas provide a total of 38 lifts, 3 aerial gondolas, 2 surface lifts and miles of groomed trails for beginner to expert skiers. It is one of the largest ski areas in the country. There is cross-country skiing at three groomed cross-country ski areas or try an ungroomed blue-diamond trail to really get away from it all.
The Forest Service maintains 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails leading to thousands of acres of ungroomed snowmobile play areas.
Climate - Deep snow often covers the middle elevations from December to May, but subzero temperatures are rare. Precipitation falls mostly between January and mid-May, but thunderstorms, rain and even snow can occur at any time of year.
Temperatures vary with elevation. In the summer, daytime temperatures often exceed 100 degrees F in the foothills, but seldom exceed 90 degrees at higher elevations. Even in the summer, backpackers in the high country can encounter nighttime temperatures in the low 30's, and occasionally even in the 20's. In any season, it is wise to bring clothing that can be "layered". Always include some kind of rain gear.
The Inyo National Forest is located along the eastern edge of California and the Sierra Nevada. It extends 165 miles along the California/Nevada border from the Mono Lake area, south beyond the Owens Valley. The Forest is headquartered in the town of Bishop.