Inyo National Forest is a federally administered forest in the United States. The forest covers parts of the eastern Sierra Nevada of California, and the White Mountains of California and Nevada. It contains two wilderness areas: the John Muir Wilderness and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The forest hosts several superlatives, including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Contiguous United States; Boundary Peak, highest point in Nevada; and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest that protects the oldest trees in the World.
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). Most of the forest is in California, but it includes about 60,700 acres (95 sq mi; 246 km2) in western Nevada. 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."
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. The forest was established on May 25, 1907. On July 1, 1945 land from the former Mono National Forest was added.
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:
- Ansel Adams Wilderness (mostly in Sierra NF and partly in Devils Postpile NM)
- Boundary Peak Wilderness
- Golden Trout Wilderness (partly in Sequoia National Forest)
- Hoover Wilderness (mostly in Toiyabe NF)
- Inyo Mountains Wilderness
- John Muir Wilderness (mostly in Sierra NF)
- Owens River Headwaters Wilderness
- South Sierra Wilderness (partly in Sequoia NF)
- White Mountains Wilderness
The forest also harbors an estimated 238,000 acres (963 km2) of old-growth forests. The most abundant trees in these forests are Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) and Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi). 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 oldest known non-clonal living tree on earth, over 4,839 years old.
Popular within Inyo National Forest are:
- Mono Lake
- Mono-Inyo Craters
- Tioga Lake
- Tioga Pass
- June Lake
- Lone Pine
- Mammoth Lakes
- Mount Whitney
- Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
- Lake SabrinaWestgard Pass