Independence Area Attractions
Numerous scenic wonders are within easy driving distance of Independence.
Here is a list of just a few:
John Muir Wilderness
The John Muir Wilderness encompasses more than
one-half million acres within the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. It extends almost 100 miles along the crest of the
Sierra Nevada in Central California. Elevations range from 5,000 to 14,495 ft. (!) on Mt. Whitney . The John Muir
Wilderness is characterized by deep canyons, meadows
and many streams and lakes. This wilderness was named after the famous naturalist John Muir, who led the
effort to protect what he referred to as "the most beautiful of all the mountain chains", the Sierra Nevada.
The John Muir Wilderness contains hundreds of miles of
trails. Three of the more well known are the Pacific Crest, John Muir and Mt. Whitney trails. The Pacific Crest Trail
(PCT) extends 2,620 miles from Canada to Mexico. The John Muir Trail (JMT) extends 212 miles from Mt. Whitney
on the south to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley on the north. The JMT and the PCT follow the same route in
most places within John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. The 10.7 mile Mt.
Whitney Trail begins at Whitney Portal, near Lone Pine, and leads to the highest peak in the Lower 48 states.
Wilderness travel is by foot or horseback ONLY.
Wheelchairs may be used in wilderness, but all other mechanical travel,
including bicycles, is prohibited. Winter offers an entirely different
experience. Skis and snowshoes become the mode of transportation. Pets
are not permitted in National Park wilderness and are under some
restriction in National
Maximum group size is 15 people and 25 head of stock.
Wilderness visitor permits are required winter and summer, for entry
into the John
Muir and adjoining Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park National Forest
and National Parks wilderness areas for overnight or longer trips.
Permits are available
at the Forest or Park Service Ranger Station closest to the trailhead
During heavy use periods many popular trails are subject to a quota,
where a set
number of people may enter the wilderness each day. Quotas are designed
to protect the resources and preserve the solitude of the visitor. If
the daily quota has
been filled for the trailhead desired, options include picking another
entrance point or starting on a different day.
Leave No Trace:
The John Muir Wilderness is a heavily visited area. Over the
years thousands of people have enjoyed, and in some instances, damaged
the resources. By practicing Minimum Impact techniques, you will make
it hard for
others to know you were there.
For More Information:
East side entry above Independence:
Inyo National Forest
Mt.Whitney Ranger Station P.O. Box 8 Lone Pine, CA 93545 (760) 876 6200
East side entry McGee Creek south to Big Pine:
Inyo National Forest White Mountain Ranger Station 798 N. Main St. Bishop, CA 93514
East side entry north of McGee Creek to Mammoth:
Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center & Ranger Station P.O. Box 148
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (760) 924-5500
West side entry:
Sierra National Forest Pineridge Ranger Station P.O. Box 559 Prather, CA 93651
Descriptions courtesy of Sierrawilderness.com
Ancient Bristlecone Pines
High on windswept ridges in the White Mountains east of Bishop, live the world's oldest known trees - the ancient
Some of these trees were growing when the Egyptians built the pyramids over four-thousand years ago. These
trees that botanists call Pinus longaeva (long-lived pine) are protected for public enjoyment and their great value to
Open daily from Memorial Day through October, weather permitting.
The Schulman Grove site includes picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor exhibits and two self-guided
nature trails. Driving time from Independence to Schulman Grove is approximately
60 minutes on paved roads. Take HWY 168 east 12 miles from Big Pine to White Mtn Road. Turn left and drive ten miles
to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center. The Bristlecone Pines can be viewed from the parking area of
the visitor center and along two nature trails.
The Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is usually open mid-May
through November 1st. The center is the interpretive focal
point for the oldest living trees in the world, the Bristlecone Pines.
The interpretive center has exhibits, a natural history sales
area, self-guided interpretive trails, and rangers on duty. The
interpretive program with a ranger on the patio outside of the
visitor center is an excellent introduction to the history and
significance of these trees. The area also has restrooms, picnic
tables, hiking trails, and a nearby campground. The Bristlecone Pine
Forest is located at 10,000 feet so visitors are urged to
come prepared for just about any weather conditions and to bring your
own water. Sunscreen and a hat are also
Beyond Schulman Grove lies the Patriarch Grove. This second grove is a
12 mile drive north of Schulman Grove on a
good-quality dirt road. Near tree line, the grove is the home of the
world's largest Bristlecone Pine, the Patriarch Tree. Its
splendid remoteness and moonscape appearance gives the Patriarch Grove
a surreal atmosphere. Bristlecone pines and limber
pines dot the area with a background view of the Great Basin in Nevada.
Patriarch Grove is a favorite location for filming and
photography in the early morning light. Picnic tables, restrooms (pit
toilet), and a self-guided nature trail are available. A visit to
Schulman Grove and Patriarch Grove is possible in the same day if you
can get an early start.
Schulman Grove is Recreation Fee Demonstration Project. The fees collected are used to open the visitor center earlier in the
spring and later in the fall, provide seven-day staffing, and extended hours. The cost is $2.00 per adult to a maximum of $5.00
per vehicle; kids under 18 are free; Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Access Passes are accepted. Fees are collected at the
visitor center during operating hours or at a self-service fee tube near parking area.
Visitors can call a recorded line for up-to-date information on the visitor center, road conditions, and the Ancient
Bristlecone Pine Forest: (760) 873-2500.
Just over 90 minutes to the north
the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area/Mountain Bike Park (summer) is easily reachable
from Independence for those who wish to enjoy Mammoth as well as the comparatively
inexpensive and tranquil atmosphere in Independence after a days fun on the
Mountain's Official Website
The main trail accessing Mt Whitney, the highest point in the
14,494 ft., is probably the most heavily used wilderness trail in the
country, if not the world. With thousands of visitors each year the
human impact on Mt. Whitney and the surrounding area presents some
unusual problems to the agencies responsible for that
part of the John Muir Wilderness.
An area designated by the U.S. Congress as wilderness is off limits to mechanical
or motorized equipment and that creates some serious limitations to wilderness
managers who are charged with protecting the area while still providing access to
as many visitors as possible. Human waste alone is a huge problem because the
high altitude alpine environment cannot sustain the volume of body waste generated
by thousands of visitors each year. Even the simple act of walking on the trail
becomes a big issue when multiplied by tens of thousands.
The Mt. Whitney Trail and other trails accessing the Whitney Zone are under a
special series of quota restrictions. The main Whitney Trail is the only trail on the
Inyo National Forest that requires a day hike permit and limits the number of those
permits to 150 people per day. Over night Permits are required year round and are
subject to a limit of 50 people per day from May 15th to November 1st each year.
Onion Valley located at the end of Onion Valley Road
is the start of the most popular alternative route to Mt. Whitney. Permits
for this trip are much easier to obtain than permits for the main Mt. Whitney
Trail. Click here for more information.
For More Information on Mt. Whitney Contact:
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
640 S. Main St./P.O. Box 8 Lone Pine, CA 93545
Ph: (760) 876-6200 - Fax (760) 876-6202
We invite you to explore our Independence Chamber of Commerce
Online Visitor Information Center.
For more information from our Visitor Information Center contact our friendly staff.
Make Independence Your Gateway To Discovery!