Colorado’s Oldest Trees Have Lived for Thousands of Years
Tourists and locals love driving along the Mount Evans Scenic and Historic Byway to check out the breathtaking views that are offered from the highest paved road in North America, but there's another natural attraction up there that's worth stopping for too.
Not only are they interesting to look at, but the groves of Rocky Mountain bristlecone pines found in this area are the oldest living trees in Colorado. These trees, in particular, have lived since the days of the Roman Empire, approximately 1,500 years ago. Bristlecone pines can be identified by their unique appearance, which includes gnarled trunks, knotty branches, and glossy green needles that grow in bundles of five.
These gangly trees are able to withstand harsh elements, like Colorado's strong winds and dry soil, which explains why they've remained standing for so long in this location. In fact, sometimes it's the wind that's responsible for giving the trees their shape. The unusual positions of bristlecones vary depending on the location and conditions endured on a daily basis.
According to First Gentleman Marlon Reis, Rocky Mountain bristlecones are also pretty rare. In addition to one isolated population in northern Arizona, they are found only below the treeline in a narrow band from central Colorado to northern New Mexico
The Centennial State's oldest known bristlecone pine tree is believed to be at least 2,461 years old and can be found near the city of Craig. You can also visit these trees at the Windy Ridge Bristlecone Pine Scenic area.