The largest Jeffrey pine forest in the world grows in a little-travelled area of Inyo National Forest. East of the Mono Craters, a network of dirt roads spans the vast open space.
Known for their distinctively sweet scent, Jeffrey pine trees are a hardy species capable of growing in nutrient-poor serpentine soils. At the base of the Mono Craters, large pumice fields and sparse rainfall dictate that sagebrush, Jeffrey pines, and little other vegetation take root.
The Bodie Railway and Lumber Company harvested Jeffrey pines in the 1880s to supply the booming mining towns of Bodie and Aurora with lumber for construction and to stoke the fires of steam pumps. What remains of Mono Mills can be seen at a small historical site alongside Highway 120.
Roads through the Jeffrey pine forest are plentiful. Deep ruts are filled with sandy pumice; an all-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. The forested high plain gives way to spectacular views of Long Valley and the Sierra at Indiana Summit. For a higher vantage point, follow 1S05 to the top of Bald Mountain.