I first encountered the Bodie Hills on a visit to Bodie State Historic Park with my dad, sometime around 1970. We had already been visiting Yosemite for some years and I was completely in love with the central Sierra Nevada—the landscape, the geology, the plants and wildlife, the history. This first visit to the “east side” immediately expanded the scope of that interest to a much wider area.
Later, as a Botany major at Humboldt State University, I looked for a place in the central or eastern Sierra Nevada where I could compile a local flora for my MA thesis. The Bodie Hills seemed a good place to look for interesting plants—the area had been collected some in the past, but not much. It offered a mix of Sierran and desert vegetation, over 4,000 feet of elevation change, and varied geology. Several rare plants were known from the area. So I spent the summers of 1979, ’80, and ’81 collecting plants throughout the Bodie Hills. I camped most nights a few miles west of Conway Summit, on Virginia Creek, listening to wind and hermit thrushes in the lodgepole pines while keying out the plants I had collected. Those were the days.
Now, four decades later, the Bodie Hills are receiving many more visitors and recreational users than ever before. There is also more attention from public land management and conservation interests who want to protect and restore habitats in the Bodie Hills for wildlife, recreation, livestock grazing, and other more or less sustainable uses. There is also interest in renewed mining, which would have lasting adverse impacts on biological and historical resources.
This seems a good time to dust off the old thesis, update the contents, and make it available, via the Internet, to anyone who is interested. The current edition of “Plants of the Bodie Hills” is an e-book in PDF format, available at the “Download” link at the top of this page. It’s a list of vascular plants, alphabetical by family, with notes on where they occur in the Bodie Hills, and keys to identify species. I’m updating it annually with additions and corrections.
Have you found something interesting in or near the Bodie Hills? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment on any post or go to my Contact page. Thanks for visiting!