Summit hikers and climbers on White Mountain will be traveling mostly in the alpine zone and temperatures there will range anywhere from 65 to 37 degrees F in the summer and 36 to -26 degrees F in the winter months. All this wind, dry air, and often times extreme cold makes White Mountains a very inhospitable environment for all life forms.
To add to the problems listed above, the soil quality is also poor, and at its worst in the alpine zone. This factor combined with a limited growing season, results in very sparse and delicate plant and wildlife. Because of this, visitors are cautioned to be careful not to disturb these very fragile life forms.
The sub-alpine forests of the Great Basin support the Bristlecone Pine (shown to the right), and the permeable dolomite and certain granite substrates also support the Limber pine. Further below, denser stands of Piñon pine and Utah juniper abound. These upper and lower conifer zones are often separated by a zone of mountain-mahogany brush. Various subspecies of sagebrush extend from the surrounding valleys to the lower alpine zone.
Most hikers on White Mountain wanting to reach the summit spend most of their time above 11,500 feet. At this level, the main vegetation disappears and rocky barren soil replaces it.
This high altitude terrain is quite destitute compared to the Pinion Pine and Bristlecone Pine trees that line the slopes from about 7,000 to 11,000 feet. Below the 7,000 foot level there are few trees present and the vegetation there gives way to mostly sagebrush and other desert like plant life. If you decide to take a trip to the White Mountains and hike to the top, you will travel through several climate zones. A treker could start off in the desert, and end up in the snow covered slopes of the high alpine zone in a single 24 hour period or less.