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Mono Lake

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Mono Lake is in Eastern Sierra region of California in the United States, just east of Yosemite National Park.

Understand

History

Landscape

Flora and fauna

Mono Lake is a noted birdwatching destination. Brine shrimp and brine fly larva in the water and brine flies on the shorelines provide abundant food for birds. Hungry migrants stopover at Mono Lake to refuel before moving on. Other birds choose the predator-free islands for nesting grounds and spend a few months at the lake.

When walking near the lake, you will quickly notice the shoreline is black with tiny brine flies. When approached, they take flight as an impressive black cloud. Fortunately, these fastidious flies hate touching icky humans, so you can walk through these clouds comfortably.

Climate

With little more than desert scrub in the basin, there is no shelter from the elements.

Winds routinely rip through the basin in all seasons. Choking alkali dust clouds can be lifted out of basin by the winds. Usually, the wind direction sends these clouds out to the east away from the most visited parts, but there's no guarantee that the direction won't change and provide you with a much more intimate opportunity to study the clouds firsthand.

In winter, snow occasionally covers the ground. Chains may be required to get around the basin, and are frequently required to cross the passes to get in and out of the region. State Route 120 is closed just west of US 395 all winter (and often all spring), and is closed east of the South Tufa area for much of the winter too.

In summer, if the wind stops suddenly, a cold day can suddenly turn into a scorcher.

Get in

Fees/Permits

Get around

See

Do

Buy

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Since this is a preserve, no camping is permitted anywhere within the Mono Lake Scenic Area.

Lodging

Lodging is available within the city of Lee Vining, some of which overlook the lake.

Camping

  • Big Bend Campground, take SR120 west from US395, then left onto Poole Power Plant Road which leads up the canyon to the campground. Season varies, but generally open Apr 26-Oct 15. $15/night.

Stay safe

Get out

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