California’s Great Beyond

Mono Lake

One of the oldest lakes in the western hemisphere

Mono Lake is hauntingly beautiful, reflecting the snow-capped Sierra Nevada in its shimmering blue waters.  An immense inland sea, the lake fills a natural basin, over 70 square miles in size.

The most distinctive feature at Mono Lake is its eerie tufa towers-mineral structures created when fresh-water springs bubble up through the alkaline waters of the lake. The lake's salty water not only makes you float like a cork, but sustains trillions of brine shrimp, attracting millions of migratory birds to feast on them. 

The Annual Bird Chautauqua held every June offers programs, birdwatching field trips and seminars about the unique geography, flora and fauna of Mono Basin.

Mono Lake Kayak

Mono Lake

Activities and Attractions

A paradise for birdwatchers and photographers, Mono Lake also offers hiking, interpretive trails, kayaking and a peaceful haven for taking in nature in all its grandeur.

Mono Lake Kayak

County Park - off US Highway 395, has picnic tables and is within walking distance of Mono Lake and its bizarre Tufa towers. An easy trail and boardwalk lead to the lake. Bird walks are offered from County Park in the summer.

Navy Beach - is the best locale for launching kayaks and canoes. It is connected to the South Tufa Area by a short trail, where there is additional parking. Navy Beach is south of Lee Vining off U.S. 395.

South Tufa - receives thousands of visitors annually and is one of the largest Tufa groves on the lake. Bird watching is prime here. Take a self-guided tour through the Tufa Towers.  There is a $3 fee to use the area, children under 18 are free.

Old Marina - is one of the easiest spots to get a quick glimpse at Mono Lake. Located just off Highway 395, Old Marina houses several large Tufa Towers as well as an astounding view of Mono Lake's large islands.

Panum Crater - and the Mono Craters should not be missed by anyone interested in geology. These spectacular young volcanoes look ready to erupt at any moment. The craters range in age from 600 to 40,000 years old. Most accessible is Panum Crater, the northernmost and youngest of the chain. Panum is reached via a short dirt road, off Highway 120 east about 3 miles east of Highway 395.

Mono Basin Visitor Center

Mono Basin Scenic Area

Ranger Station & Visitor Center

Start your visit to the area with a stop at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Ranger Station & Visitor Center, located just north of Lee Vining.  The Visitor Center offers excellent views of Mono Lake, interpretive displays, and guided tours of the region.  For more information call 760-647-3044.

Mono Basin Visitor Center
Mono Lake Committee Book Store

Mono Lake Committee

Information Center & Bookstore

Dedicated to protecting and restoring the Mono Basin ecosystems, the Mono Lake Committee operates an information center and bookstore in Lee Vining.  The bookstore is filled with guides, maps, and books on Mono Lake, and the surrounding Mono Basin.  All proceeds support the important work the committee does to protect and restore Mono Lake.  For more information call 760-647-6595.

Mono Lake Committee Book Store

Essential Mono County