Description - Mono Lake Tufa State Recreation Area was established the preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. The State Reserve is surrounded by the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, operated by the Forest Service. A boardwalk trail below the Mono Lake County Park allows access to the north shore tufa area and marsh. A trail at Panum Crater leads to the dome and crater rim.
Copyright: - California State Parks
"Tufa towers" in Mono Lake Tufa SRA
- Mono Lake Tufa State Recreation Area was established the preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 60 square miles. It is an ancient lake, over 700,000 years old -- one of the oldest lakes in North America. It has no outlet. Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierran streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean.
The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center is a great place to start your visit to this area. 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 members stand ready to help you plan your explorations of Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra.
Recreation - Hiking, swimming, boating, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy at this unusual lake. The natural history of the lake is described and explained in a one-mile self-guided nature trail at South Tufa. <
There are no campgrounds in the State Reserve or the Scenic Area. Dispersed camping is permitted in most of the Scenic Area outside the exposed lake bed lands. Campfire permits are required. Established campgrounds are located in Lundy Canyon, Lee Vining Canyon, and the June Lake Loop.
All types of boating are permitted on Mono Lake, although access is restricted to Negit and Paoha Islands between April 1 and August 1 each year to protect the nesting gulls. It is advisable to stay near shore while boating, and to be alert for sudden high winds. For those with boats too large to carry, a launch ramp is available near Lee Vining Creek. Stop by the Scenic Area Visitor Center for directions.
Climate - The High Sierra generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
Winter at Mono Lake: Winter is a particularly beautiful time at Mono Lake. The crowds are gone, a quiet stillness prevails, and snow crystals sparkle on the tufa towers.
The park is east of Yosemite, located 10 miles southeast of Lee Vining, via Highway 395. A map is available on this wildernet.com page.