Mono Lake is unlike any other lake in California. Its water contains three times as much salt as is found in the ocean. In additionm the water contains chlorides, sulfates, and carbonates. Before water was diverted from the lake's tributaries, Mono Lake had a surface area of 55,179 acres. Now it has 45,133 acres.
Organisms surviving in Mono Lake's harsh chemistry include brine shrimp, algae, and alkali flies. The lake is an important nesting area for California Gulls and Snowy Plovers, besides serving as a migratory stop-over for many other birds.
Mono Lake allows any kind of boats, but since it offers no fishing or water sports, most people use non-motorized craft to explore the lake. Underwater tufa towers present a hazard to fast moving boats. Dangerous afternoon winds confine most boating outings to the morning hours.
Mono Lake has no marinas. It does have two launch ramps, one for non-motorized boats and another which can accommodate boats on trailers.
Mono Lake has no fish. Consequently, we have added a History page to our section on Mono Lake.
Camping is not allowed on the Mono Lake shoreline below the historic 1941 elevation of the lake (6,417'). However, dispersed camping is permitted in some parts of the surrounding Scenic Area, well away the protected shoreline. Check with the rangers at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center for guidance about where camping is permitted. (760) 647-3044. Developed campgrounds with restrooms, water, and other amenities are available in nearby Lee Vining Canyon and south around the June Lake Loop. RV Parks are found to the north in Bridgeport and south around June Lake.
Mono Lake has lodging available in Lee Vining. For additional lodging, June Lake is only a short drive to the south.
Mono Lake offers a unique beauty. Its stark, volcanic landscape and oddly sculptured tufa towers have attracted photographers and artists from around the world. Morning brings a gentle hue of light that seems to wash across the landscape. Then as the sun drops behind the Sierra and twilight settles across the Mono Basin A pallet of soft colors awakens.
The nearest town to Mono Lake is Lee Vining which has lodging, restaurants, and a variety of stores and services. To the north is Bridgeport while south on Highway 395 you would find services in June Lake.
Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center
Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center
The center is located just off Highway 395, north of Lee Vining and includes a variety of exhibits about the natural and human history of the Mono Basin. Visitor center staff stand ready to help you plan your explorations of Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra. The Visitor Center is closed Dec. 1 - March 31.