If ever a tree encapsulated the essence of western North America's forests, it is ponderosa pine. The most widely distributed tree in the west, ponderosa pine grows in every state west of the Great Plains. More impressive than its distribution is the beautiful nature of ponderosa pine forests. Large trees, commonly 150-180 ft. tall, ponderosa pines often grow in open stands with little or no understory. Often described as being "park-like", these forests eagerly invite visitors to walk or lounge in their soft summer shade.