Dick's Juniper Pictures

   
Courtright Reservoir          Kaiser Pass Area          Eastern Sierra          Southern California

Other States          More Photos          Links of Interest         Juniper Slide Show

      
New photos added here August 18, 2017 (captions in red)
   

This page is dedicated to Laurie Lewis, an extraordinary bluegrass/folk musician, singer and composer, who never met a juniper tree she didn't love

   
  
  

Along with sequoias, bristlecone pines, and red firs, junipers are my favorite trees. A very few are tall, straight and full. Most are twisted and gnarly, with dead branches and tops; sometimes there's just one live branch on a large, rugged tree. They grow in rocky, high elevation locations where few other trees can even get a start. Like Laurie, I'm tempted to photograph every one I see.

There are three main species pictured here. The Sierra Juniper (AKA Western Juniper), as its name implies, is native to California's Sierra Nevada mountains. They are also found in areas of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. They are divided into two subspecies, occidentalis in the northern part and australis in the southern part of their range. Some experts think they are two separate species. I don't care - I just like seeing and photographing them.

There are probably trees of two other species shown here. The Utah Juniper is native to Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and extreme eastern California. In my experience, they tend to grow to a lesser height than their western cousins, but their overall appearance and growth patterns are similar. The Rocky Mountain Juniper occupies much of the same territory, but extends into Canada, Texas and Mexico. They are the smallest of the three species I've encountered, and in areas outside the Sierra, I don't know which one I'm seeing. 

Information on the age of these trees is confusing. The tree considered to be the oldest and largest is "possibly 3,000 years old." Another source gives the typical age at maturity as 1,000 years. Individual trees have been verified to be as much as 2,600 years old. The oldest verified Rocky Mountain specimen is 1,500 years of age.

Hug a tree, but be careful if it's a juniper. The reddish bark of the western species, and the grayish bark of the others is stringy and rough, part of what makes these conifers such a visual delight.

--Dick Estel, September 2016

  
Click photo for a larger view (pictures open in a new window)
      
The Junipers of Courtright Reservoir

At 8,000 feet elevation, surrounded by domes, granite cliffs, and glacier-scoured bedrock, this area offers the perfect habitat for some of my favorite junipers. In the top four rows are four trees I photographed in 1970, and again in 2016. There is not much change, testimony to slow growth and the ability to weather adversity once they are well established.

  
Probably the first juniper I ever photographed, about 1970 2016 photo of the same tree A slightly different angle
Probably the first juniper I ever photographed, about 1970 2016 photo of the same tree A slightly different angle
   
Tree below road, photographed on a hike about 1970 This tree has filled out on top over the course of 45 years It has a hole through the base
Tree below the Maxson Trailhead road, photographed on a hike about 1970 This tree has filled out on top over the course of 45 years It has a hole through the base
   
This tree is above the road on a rock cliff It's distinctive shape made it easy to locate for a 2016 photo A wider view of the tree's location
This tree is above the road on a rock cliff It's distinctive shape made it easy to locate for a 2016 photo A wider view of the tree's location
   
This tree hasn't suffered much "pruning" from the elements The passage of 45 years has thinned the branches slightly A closer look at the top of the tree
This tree hasn't suffered much "pruning" from the elements The passage of 45 years has thinned the branches slightly A closer look at the top of the tree
  
How those ancient junipers start out  Another "youngster" Base of an ancient, living juniper

How those ancient junipers start out

Another "youngster" Base of an ancient, living juniper
     
It's ancient, it's gnarly, it's dead The mossy top of the dead juniper The dead tree stands in front of 15 foot high rock cliff
The Sentinel: It's ancient, it's gnarly, it's dead The mossy top of the dead juniper The dead tree stands in front of a 15 foot high rock cliff
  
Tree along the road a short distance before the dam Detail of bark on the live one More bark beauty
Tree along the road a short distance before the dam Detail of bark on a live tree More bark beauty
     
The striking red bark has caused junipers to be called "red cedar" A wider view of the rugged base A bit of bark still clings to this weathered tree

The striking red bark has caused junipers to be called "red cedar"

A wider view of the rugged base

A bit of bark still clings to this weathered trunk

      
A fairly straight and full tree above the trailhead parking lot Taking a closer look

One of my favorite scenes in the entire area

A fairly straight and full tree above the trailhead parking lot Taking a closer look
     
The most probable theory - the rock fell from the cliff above A rare straight, tall juniper
Pondering how the rock got up in the tree The most probable theory - the rock fell from the cliff above A rare straight, tall juniper
       
Big juniper near the LeConte Overlook A longer view of the overlook tree This tree at the base of Constant Dome appears to be dead
Big juniper near the LeConte Overlook A longer view of the overlook tree This tree at the base of Constant Dome appears to be dead
      
But a closer look reveals some life Its size is small, but the trunk reflects many years facing the elements Dead top rises above this rugged tree on the slope above camp
But a closer look reveals some life This one is small in size, but the trunk reflects many years facing the elements Dead top rises above this rugged tree on the slope above camp
    
I almost didn't walk down to this tree below the road, but was glad I did The broken top has been replaced by multiple tops Not very tall, but clearly strong against the winter winds

I almost didn't walk down to this tree below the road, but was glad I did

The broken top has been replaced by multiple tops Not very tall, but clearly strong against the winter winds
   
This tall, straight specimen almost looks like a Sequoia Teri stands by this tree to give perspective on its size A closer look
This tall, straight specimen almost looks like a Sequoia Teri stands by this tree to give perspective on its size A closer look
     
Gnarly dead juniper above the Kings River North Fork canyon Close-up of juniper foliage
Gnarly dead juniper above the Kings River North Fork canyon Close-up of juniper foliage A close-up of the trunk of the Sentinel Juniper
A bunch of junipers growing together The Big Four - similar in size, tall and straight, but junipers nevertheless This tree hit the ceiling and grew sideways
   
The Bull Juniper - one of the finest specimens in the area Looking down on the top of the Bull Juniper The top as seen from down on the same level as the tree
     
Kaiser Pass Area

From Huntington Lake at 7,000 feet, a narrow paved road goes up over 9,000 foot Kaiser Pass, then into the drainage of the San Joaquin River's South Fork. Here you will find Lake Edison, Lake Florence, and Mono Hot Springs Resort. Along the road and in the surrounding rocks are many fine examples of these magnificent trees

Junipers thrive in the rocky area near Mono Hot Springs Harsh winters keep the trees "pruned" I just kept taking pictures of this tree
Junipers thrive in the rocky areas around Mono Hot Springs Harsh winters keep the trees "pruned" I just kept taking pictures of this tree
  
Juniper ont he Kaiser Pass Road Another look at the Kaiser Pass trees    

Juniper on the Kaiser Pass Road just west of the pass

Another look at the Kaiser Pass trees   
  
  Eastern Sierra

The June Lake Loop just west of US Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra, just above the 7,500 foot level, is host to a number of striking junipers. It's a great place for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing and just relaxing (and taking pictures of junipers!)

   
Rugged juniper on June Lake Loop near Mono Lake This one has an extra-thick trunk Another good size juniper near Silver Lake
Rugged juniper on June Lake Loop near Mono Lake This one has an extra-thick trunk

Another good size juniper near a trail out of Silver Lake

   
   It has a massive limb hanging out below the trail   
  

It has a massive limb hanging out below the trail

  
  
   Southern California

The junipers here were photographed in either Joshua Tree National Monument or the Mojave National Preserve

A very gnarly, tangled dead tree in Joshua Tree National Park Thick, bushy specimen with a good crop of berries Close look at juniper berries (they are actually cones)
A very gnarly, tangled dead tree in Joshua Tree National Park Thick, bushy specimen with a good crop of berries Close look at juniper berries (they are actually cones)
  
This tree at a high point in the Mojave Preserve shelters a blooming cactus   
   This tree at a high point in the Mojave Preserve shelters a blooming cactus   
  
Other States

These are mostly Utah Junipers, with possibly a Rocky Mountain specimen here and there

   
Rugged juniper along US Highway 6 in Nevada Juniper in Great Basin Natinal Park, Nevada Another specimen in Great Basin
Rugged juniper along US Highway 6 in Nevada Juniper in Great Basin National Park, Nevada Another specimen in Great Basin
   
A multi-trunk juniper, Grand Canyon North Rim  Tree near Walhalla Overlook shows typical gray trunk of the Utah species Along the Bright Angel Trail

A multi-trunk juniper, Grand Canyon North Rim

Tree near Walhalla Overlook shows typical gray trunk of the Utah species Along the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon
    
Teri and a hardy juniper on the Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park Near the Windows area of Arches National Park View of juniper tree looking out through Navajo Arch
Teri and a hardy juniper on the Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park Near the Windows area of Arches National Park  View of juniper tree looking out through Navajo Arch
  
Utah Juniper in Canyonlands National Park
Near Double Arch Near Broken Arch

Utah Juniper in Canyonlands National Park

   
Corral of juniper branches at Dead Horse State Park, Utah Juniper and white sandstone along I-70 Juniper in the Colorado section of Dinosaur National  Monument
Corral of juniper branches at Dead Horse State Park, Utah Juniper and white sandstone along I-70 Juniper in the Colorado section of Dinosaur National  Monument
   
At the Plug Hat Picnic Area in Dinosaur National Monument Small stand of junipers in the Monument A lowdown juniper in the Monument
At the Plug Hat Picnic Area in Dinosaur National Monument Small stand of junipers in the Monument A lowdown juniper in the Monument
   
Echo Park area of Dinosaur Monument Still in Echo Park Another Echo Park tree
Echo Park area of Dinosaur Monument Still in Echo Park Another Echo Park tree
   In the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park   
   In the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park   
 
Links of Interest
Sierra Juniper Utah Juniper Rocky Mountain Juniper
Photos Photos Photos
Junipers in the USA Dick's Conifer Photos USDA Guide Rocky Mountain Juniper
Grow Your Own Great Basin National Park Dinosaur National Monument
June Lake Loop Grand Canyon National Park Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
   

 

All photos copyright 2002-2017 by Dick Estel. Permission granted for personal use only; commercial use prohibited.

    

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Updated August 18, 2017