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Methuselah Tree  
Explore the Methuselah Grove
Text and photography by Don Bain

A visit to the ancient bristlecone pine forest in California's White Mountains begins with a dramatic climb from the desert in Owens Valley at 4,000 feet elevation to the Schulman visitor center at 10,000 feet. This high in the mountains it is always cool and may be cold even in mid-summer, but the air is dry and the sun is usually shining. After visiting the small museum and information center, most people take the self-guided nature trail.

Below are four panoramas from this and other trails in bristlecone country, which I shot on October 21, 1997. Click on the images below to take your own tour, complete with details about what you're seeing.

In case you're wondering, the tree shown in the NOVA program is not the Methuselah Tree. To protect this venerable old tree, the U.S. Forest Service refuses to give its location or identity within the Methuselah Grove—as does the scientist who recently discovered an even older bristlecone than Methuselah. But rest assured that some of the trees you see in these panoramas are among the oldest living things on Earth.

Discovery Trail Discovery Trail   Lone bristlecone Lone bristlecone   Methuselah Grove Methuselah Grove   Patriarch Tree Patriarch Tree

Viewing the panoramas requires the free QuickTime plugin.

G. Donald Bain
G. Donald Bain is director of the Geography Computing Facility at the University of California at Berkeley, where he combines his two chief interests, geography and computer graphics. In 1994 he founded the Geo-Images Project, a Web site featuring photography for geographic education (see Since then his work has focused on virtual reality panoramas, over 2,100 of which can be seen at

Photo credits

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Explore the Methuselah Grove | A Tree's Secret to Living Long
Build a Tree-Ring Timeline | Illuminating Photosynthesis
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