Mono Lake California

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Mono Lake

This unique saltwater lake treats visitors to one-of-a-kind sights.  Come to experience the "tufa towers," and  abundant wildlife.  Stay to boat, swim and hike in a unique alpine setting.

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  • Explore the waters by boat, or head out in a canoe or kayak.
  • Hike the South Tufa Trail for great views of the tufa formations, as well as the diverse bird life.
  • Take a memorable dip in Mono’s buoyant waters.


Mono Lake is a large saltwater lake located in the dry Great Basin in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The lake draws visitors for its unique salt water content, abundant wildlife, and limitless outdoor recreation. The lake is known for its impressive “tufa towers”, calcium-carbonate spires that rise from the lake bed.

Location & Information

Mono Lake is located about 30 miles north of Mammoth Lakes off US 395.

Phone: 760-647-6331

Mono Lake is open year round. Roads may be impassable after heavy winter snows.


Walk the South Tufa
Park Rangers lead walks through the South Tufa area from May through September. 

Bird Walks
Mono Lake is home to approximately 1 – 2 million birds that feed, nest, and rest around the lake. It’s an especially vital habitat for Ospreys who nest along the offshore Tufa towers. Bird walks are offered at 8:00am on Fridays and Sundays, they begin at Mono Lake County Park.These tours run from mid-May until Labor Day.

South Tufa Trail
Want a chance to marvel at Mono’s unusual tufa towers, diverse bird life, and breathtaking vistas? The South Tufa Trail is a short 1.5 mile round trip walk that encapsulates the best of all the lakes sights without having to undertake an epic trek. Guided tours are available, as described above. Find the trail by heading east on 120 off US 395. Continue 5 miles to the signed turn off.

Boating is permitted on Mono Lake any time of year, but boaters are restricted from all islands between April 1 and August 1 to protect bird nesting areas. For canoes and kayaks, Navy Beach is an ideal launch point. For larger boats, an unimproved launch ramp is available near Lee Vining Creek.

A dip in Mono Lake is sure to be memorable experience. The salty waters are more buoyant than the ocean, and swimmers hover at the lakes surface. Be cautious with your eyes and open cuts, the water will sting.

Fun Facts

Mono lake covers almost 65 square miles, and is thought to be over 1 million years old.

Because freshwater regularly evaporates from the lake leaving salt and minerals behind, the lake is nearly 2 1\2 times as salty as the ocean.