The Eastern Sierra is a dramatic, unusual, mountain-and-desert region in eastern California and western Nevada that includes two famous resorts, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes. It is a world apart from the lands west of the Sierra Nevada, and the contributors to this lavishly illustrated natural history provide a marvelous introduction to the wonderland that makes up the Eastern Sierra.
As the eastern slope of the 400-mile-long Sierra Nevada merges with the western edge of the Great Basin, desert valleys of long summers and snow-spangled mountains of long winters lie side by side. The region's unique features include altitudes ranging from 2,800 feet at Redrock Canyon to 14,494 feet at the top of Mount Whitney; the merging of three biogeographic regions: the Sierra Nevada, the Great Basin Desert, and the Mojave Desert; and the resulting extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life. The book contains chapters on the region's geologic story, weather and climate, plant communities, arthropods, native fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The authors emphasize relationships and the ingenious ways that plant and animal life have evolved and adapted to the Eastern Sierra's harsh environments. Maps, diagrams, photographs, and exceptional drawings illustrate the text. Written with few technical terms, Sierra East is a fine source book for the layperson and students on university field trips.
Genny Smith is editor and publisher of Genny Smith Books. Since 1959 she has edited and published Deepest Valley, Mammoth Lakes Sierra (now in its sixth edition), Mammoth Gold (1990), and other books about the Eastern Sierra.
"There are few more spectacular drives on Earth than Highway 395 along the foot of the great granite wall of the Sierra Nevada. In Sierra East, Genny Smith and her team of experts tell the story of that amazing terrain, and its fantastic contours, molded by tectonic upthrusts and Pleistocene glaciers; its spectacular weathers; its amazing diversity of plant and animal life; and the human struggles over its life-giving waters."—Harold Gilliam, author of Weather of the San Francisco Bay Region
"For those of us who live within the Sierra East territory, this is the 'right' side of California. It is a wondrous place to visit. This book is not a superficial tourist guide to what you may see from the scenic overlooks. It is a real guidebook covering all the natural and unnatural history as well as geology, weather, and water. There are thorough descriptions of plants and animals you may wander across plus information on how they cope with the extreme rigors of the high mountains and harsh deserts."—Sally Gaines, co-founder of the Mono Lake Committee
"This is the first comprehensive natural history of the Eastern Sierra. An outstanding team of authors, with years of experience in the region, meets the challenge of covering their specialties from the Mojave Desert to the tops of 14,000-foot mountains. This diverse material is uniformly accessible in a readable style."—Frank L. Powell, Director, White Mountain Research Station, University of California, San Diego