Carson Pass wildflowers, best in the range

A place to explore the natural setting (geology, flora & fauna), people, constructed infrastructure and historical events that play and have played a part in shaping the Sierra Nevada as we know it today.
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Carson Pass wildflowers, best in the range

Post by SSSdave » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:14 pm


Last week was out on a photography road trip 4 days into the Carson Pass area, that each summer late June to mid July arguably has the Sierra Nevada's best displays of timberline wildflowers. That is because the volcanic geology has rich mineral nutrient soils, winter snow precipitation is high, and there are considerable Sierra Crest and ridge top areas without trees due to scouring by winter storm winds that often reach over 100 mph. Those open landscapes without shading trees allow many perennial herbs to establish. The Pacific Crest Trail routes through the area running north over a saddle into the Upper Truckee River basin very rich with lush vegetation with the same Mehrten Formation geology.

Some areas like per the above image on the west slopes of Elephants Back, a smooth shaped lava dome, have waist to chest high growths of plants while others where soil substrates are thin atop bare volcanic bedrock or in wind exposed sites can be covered densely by short belly plant species.

The most popular day hike in the area is from the Carson Pass parking lot to Winnemucca lake, about 2 miles and 400 feet of vertical so relatively easy. At this time of summer a small national forest service building at Carson Pass is manned by volunteers. The trail is particularly well know by plant enthusiasts and probably has the highest ratio of female to male hikers in the range during July. Happy dogs and kids are common and equestrians users frequently ride north on the PCT over the beautiful saddle into the lush Upper Truckee River basin.


Were it not for the awful smoke from the Ferguson Fire, I would be up there this week too. Much more including images on last week's trip at Page 7 that I just coded then added to my 2018 Trip Chronicles feature: ... 018-7.html ... les-0.html

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Re: Carson Pass wildflowers, best in the range

Post by apeman45 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:53 pm

Great pictures Dave! I agree that the Carson Pass area is among the best areas for Sierra wildflowers and it's just a gorgeous area.

I write very amateurish articles for a local throw away paper here in northern California. Last year I wrote an article about places to see the best wildflower displays and my number one spot was Carson Pass. If you are really bored check it out. I don't have any great photos like Dave did.

One spot I think rivals Carson Pass is the north and west slopes of Mt Dana. Thanks for the awesome pictures. I live 1 hour from Carson Pass so now that you tipped us off on the great bloom I may be up there this weekend! ... wer-walks/

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