Tag Archives: Lyon County

How Big are the Bodie Hills?

How big are the Bodie Hills? How many square miles? That depends, but first, here are the numbers I’ve come up with:

  • in Mono, CA . . . . . . . . . . . .259 square miles (62%)
  • in Mineral, NV . . . . . . . . . .146 square miles (35%)
  • in Lyon, NV . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 square miles (3%)
  • Total area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 417 square miles

Overview of the Bodie Hills

Overview of the Bodie Hills from the southeast

It depends, of course, on where you draw the boundaries. There are relatively sharp natural boundaries in some areas — Virginia Creek along the southwest edge, the East Walker River in the canyon that separates the Bodie Hills from the Sweetwater Mountains, and the edge of Big Meadows south of Bridgeport.

In other areas the natural or physical boundary is less obvious. Along the east side of the range, the channels of Rough Creek and Mud Spring Wash are potential boundaries, but that would include a good bit of Fletcher Valley, with lower elevations and different vegetation than in the Bodie Hills proper. Along the south edge of the range, there is a relatively narrow transition in some areas from the rocky and wooded Bodie Hills to the sandy, mostly shrubby Mono Basin. But there’s no single elevation contour that consistently follows this transition, and the boundary becomes more vague east of Trench Canyon.

Should Cedar Hill (about 12 square miles) be included? I’ve left it outside the Bodie Hills, running the boundary instead through Trench Canyon, but that choice is fairly arbitrary.

Should the very young (<100,000 year-old) late Pleistocene trachyandesite of Mud Spring—the lava dome that fills the narrow far-southeast end of Fletcher Valley—be included? I’ve left it out, following instead the approximate route of the paleodrainage channel of Lake Russell (Pleistocene Mono Lake), along the southern edge of that formation.

Bodie Hills from the east

Bodie Hills from the east

Should boundary follow the East Walker River through the irrigated valley bottom just east of the state line? I’ve drawn it closer to the base of the hill slopes to the south, mostly excluding that valley bottom.

Bodie Hills from the north

Bodie Hills from the north

In some areas lacking a hard “edge” to the Bodie Hills, roads provide a convenient, if somewhat arbitrary boundary. My southern boundary follows roads from US 395 to Cottonwood Canyon. My eastern boundary follows roads in the vicinity of Alkali Lake and in Fletcher Valley from about Mud Spring to the Miocene trachyandesites incised by lower Rough Creek. For convenience, my western boundary follows US 395 south of Bridgeport and State Route 182 north of Bridgeport.

Bodie Hills from the southwest

Bodie Hills from the southwest

One could quibble and fuss over the boundary in a number of places, but further refinement would change the total area (and the number of plants included in the checklist) very little.

Methods: I imported 13 US Topo quadrangles (1:24,000 scale) covering the Bodie Hills into Adobe Illustrator, using Avenza’s MAPublisher plug-in to maintain the georeferencing from the GeoPDFs made by USGS. I drew and adjusted the boundaries described above for the entire range on a new georeferenced layer, copying and joining road and river line segments from other layers where available. I then divided that area using the county boundary lines. I exported the three resulting shapes to a KMZ file, opened that in Google Earth Pro, and looked at the their “measurements” info for the square miles in each county.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2016. All rights reserved.
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Available Now: Plants of the Bodie Hills, an Annotated Checklist

Lewisia rediviva var. minor

Lewisia rediviva var. minor

A year ago I decided to update the “Flora of the Bodie Hills” I had written 3.3 decades ago as my MA thesis at Humboldt State University. Why? There have been many nomenclatural and taxonomic changes in the flora, many more species have been found by subsequent collectors in the area, and there is now greatly simplified access to all this information through the internet. The Bodie Hills are rich in plants, wildlife, human history, geological interest, and recreational opportunities. More than ever, the natural resources of the Bodie Hills should be explored, documented, managed, and protected for all who enjoy the area.

Checklist Cover December 2015Plants of the Bodie Hills, an Annotated Checklist is a free, 47-page PDF document (5.1 MB), available for DOWNLOAD HERE. This first edition is dated January 3, 2016. Future editions will be released occasionally, as additions and corrections are made. This annotated checklist is an alphabetized list of plants by family and scientific name, with notes on distribution, habitat, and information gleaned from herbarium specimens. There are currently no keys, photographs, or illustrations, but I hope to add these in the future.  Meanwhile, selected keys, photos, and other natural history notes will be posted occasionally here at BodieHillsPlants.com.

Let me know what you think! And please tell me if you find additional plants in the Bodie Hills or errors that need correcting. Leave a comment below, go to the Contact Page, or email me at tmessick1[at]gmail.com. Thanks!

Masonic Upper Town

Masonic Upper Town (site) and the road south to Bodie


Copyright © Tim Messick 2016. All rights reserved.
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The View from Hilaria Hill

Last month during a quick trip down the northeast side of the Bodie Hills along NF-028 (a.k.a. Ninemile Ranch Road), I turned onto NF-128 and drove a short distance up the low northern slope of the Bodie Hills.

Red Wash Creek(See Flickr for a panoramic version of this photo)

There has been some prospecting in this area, but not much mining, so there are few roads through the relatively undisturbed pinyon-juniper woodland and few names on the features in this landscape. The drainage on the left side of this view is Red Wash Creek (which is usually dry), but none of these hills have names. Let’s call the place where I’m standing “Hilaria Hill,” because . . .

Hilaria jamesiiHilaria jamesii

Walking around on this low hill, I quickly encountered Galetta (Hilaria jamesii), a native grass that inhabits much of the arid southwest. Here, less than a mile from the southern boundary of Lyon County, Nevada, we are on the very westernmost edge of the species’ range.

Tetradimia spinosaTetradimia spinosa

Other plants here include the viciously armed Shortspine horsebrush (Tetradimia spinosa), the lovely Desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and the virtually leafless Nevada Mormon Tea (Ephedra nevadensis). There are lots more — I need to explore this place some more and go farther up the road. South of here there are some hydrothermally altered soils with Jeffrey pines that are disjunct from their primary range along the east side of the Sierra Nevada.

Sphaeralcea ambiguaSphaeralcea ambigua

Ephedra nevadensisEphedra nevadensis


Copyright © Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.