Scenic USA - California

Minaret Vista

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Minaret Vista - Mammoth Lakes, California

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Owning the bragging rights to both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous states, east-central California is world famous for its collection of scenic wonders. Within a few hours driving time, sightseers are able to witness Death Valley’s Badwater at 282 feet below sea level and the majestic Mt. Whitney at 14,494 feet, the highest peak in the Lower 48. Surrounded by Yosemite National Park, two national forests, and the John Muir Wilderness, the awe-inspiring Minarets are another one of California's scenic wonders located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
   Heading west from U. S. Route 395, California's Route 203 leads visitors passed Mammoth Mountain, the town of Mammoth Lakes, and ends at the Devils Postpile National Monument and a very imposing Ritter Range. Minaret Vista Entrance sign Devils Postpile visitors shouldn't miss this majestic view from the Minaret Vista Overlook. Reminding a geographical survey team (1868) of a prominent feature of Arabic architecture, the Minarets became the centerpiece of the Minarets Wilderness in 1964. The California Wilderness Act nearly doubled the size of this wilderness land and honored landscape photographer Ansel Adams when renaming this preserve.
   Seventeen of the granite Minarets have received names, with the tallest spire (Clyde Minaret - 12,261 ft.) named after climber Norman Clyde. As anyone would guess, these rocky spires issue an unspoken challenge to mountain climbers. However, the Minarets are notorious for loose talus; and that reputation for poor rock quality keeps most peak baggers at bay. The Ansel Adams Wilderness, blazed with 350 miles of trails, attracts hikers, backpackers, and pack-stockers. Because of its extreme popularity, a trailhead quota system is in place to control and safeguard these 230,000 acres of wilderness land.

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