With the Sierra Nevada looming in the west and the Great Basin to the east, Mono Lake is a gem in an environment of extremes. The 65-square-mile saline lake is host to the often photographed tufa towers and millions of migrating birds.
Because of the arid location in a rain shadow, life in the Eastern Sierra has been shaped by the ownership and availability of water. In 1941, the City of Los Angeles began pulling from Mono Lake’s freshwater sources and compromised the lake’s fragile ecosystem. Water levels began to drop over the subsequent decades, and an epic environmental battled ensued.
Mono Lake Committee founder David Gaines and a group of 1970s activists began a campaign to save the lake and restore water levels. Beginning with a 1983 California Supreme Court ruling, champions of Mono Lake have been victorious in a series of actions to save the lake. Today water levels are on the rise, and protections as a state natural reserve ensure Mono Lake will be there for future generations to enjoy.
The banks of Mono Lake are laced with trails granting access to popular features such as Black Point and South Tufa.
Break from the shoreline crowds by kayaking or swimming in the uncannily buoyant waters. Watch for submerged tufa and high afternoon winds.