Krummholz High Altitude twisted trees - My Rocky Mountain Park

High elevation trees grow "Krummholz"

To cope with the relentless winds and snow loads of the Colorado Rockies, the highest-elevation trees grow in short, dense stands of crooked wood.
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Crooked high altitude trees

Krummholz, twisted pine. Photo by Walter Siegmund [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Life is tough in the park’s highest alpine zones, even for the trees.

To cope with the relentless winds and snow loads, the highest-elevation trees grow in short, dense stands called krummholz (German for “crooked wood”), which can better withstand the tundra’s harsh conditions. Look for their gnarled shapes around 11,000 to 11,500 feet.

Krummholz can be found in most areas of Rocky Mountain National Park. Some mounds of crooked wood are so large that they become a jungle-gym for children on the trails.

Crooked wood near Bear Lake. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski.

Crooked wood near Bear Lake. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski.

Crooked wood near Bierstadt Lake. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Crooked wood near Bierstadt Lake. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

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