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.
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.
There is a very popular restaurant at the corner of highway 120 and 395 that is part of a Mobile Gas station. Given the remoteness it is quite nice and recently remodeled. When we were here on a Tuesday night there were probably 30 other diners, and you can eat outside overlooking the lake. Standard grill fare. We didn't pass any other eating establishment that was open. This is probably your best bet in the area.
Since this is a preserve, no camping is permitted anywhere within the Mono Lake Scenic Area.
Lodging is available within the city of Lee Vining, some of which overlook the lake.