14th Annual Family Camping Trip: Devil’s Postpile National Monument
Located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada range between 7,200 and 8,200 feet, Devils Postpile National Monument's landscape is a reflection of fire and ice. Resembling a tidy lumber pile created by giants, Devils Postpile’s 60-foot basalt columns were formed when lava erupted in the valley nearly 100,000 years ago and filled the area to a depth of 400 feet. Then, glaciers overrode the fractured mass of lava and quarried away one side of the postpile about 10,000 years ago, exposing and polishing a sheer wall of columns and enhancing the appearance of the natural hexagonal structure. Several other lava flows have occurred in the Monument and surrounding area. Volcanic activity lives on today at the Monument's soda spring. The flora and fauna at Devils Postpile are typical of the Sierra Nevada. Visitors can see animals and plants such as black bear, eagles, pine and fir trees, as well as many wildflowers. Though technically a west slope location, close proximity to the eastern slope of the Sierra and a low pass creates circumstances that allow species from both sides to mix. The unique geography of the area fosters relatively high species diversity concentrated in a small area. Soda Springs Meadow, near the Ranger Station, harbors an abundance of songbirds and wildflowers. The talus at the base of Devils Postpile is home to many squirrels and chipmunks and the pine martens which hunt them. Another asset in terms of biodiversity is the burned area near Rainbow Falls, which is habitat for many plants and animals that will not live in heavily forested areas.
Sponsor: Community Scholar Program (CSP)