Mono Lake in California: Visit California's Eastern Sierra & See the Tufa Towers by Fiona Whiley

U.S. Travel
a year ago
Mono Lake in California: Visit California's Eastern Sierra & See the Tufa Towers

Mono Lake is a unique lake found high in the mountains close to the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by a barren desert region. The lake has no outlet and this causes increased salt levels in the water. Not only is the water salty, but it is also alkaline.

Photo: Mono Lake as seen from Mt. Dana.

Under the surface of the water, there are areas where fresh spring waters bubble up from the lake floor through the alkaline waters. This process forms mineral structures around the spring openings. The structures are called tufa towers. They were originally formed under the surface of the water and then as the water level in the lake fell, the towers were exposed.

You can walk out on the mud flats to get a closer view of the tufa towers, but stay on the dry mud. (The wet mud will suction your shoes right off your foot!) The lake water is not suitable for fish, but it does support a healthy amount of brine shrimp, which form the diet for millions of migratory birds during their travels.

Photo: Fiona Whiley

Near the town of Lee Vining, the Mono Lake Visitor Center has a great view over the lake. It is close to Yosemite National Park and is an easy day trip from South Lake Tahoe. It is an interesting place to visit! 

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