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Mono Lake Tufa State Recreation Area




Mono Lake Tufa State Recreation Area
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General Information


Copyright: - California State Parks
"Tufa towers" in Mono Lake Tufa SRA
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.

Attractions - 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. <

Camping
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.

Boating
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.

Location - 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.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Greg Reis, Mono Lake Committee Information Specialist (Lee Vining, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: It is the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, not a recreation area. The temperature never exceeds 100 and rarely goes below 0. Summertime highs are usually in the 80s. It does not cost $8, and the fees go to the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area as well. Both federal and state agency budgets have been slashed deeply in recent years.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: I visited this place in 1991 and it was neat. No commercial stuff. Just park your car, walk around and check it out. I visited again in 2002 and they have everything fenced off and charge something like $8. And for what? Very little. Sure, the tufa things are kind of neat, but like everything else, it is now just a way to transfer money. They had three, repeat "three" state parks people there (on the payroll of course), with the added expense of their vehicles, the fee collection station facility cost, etc., etc., etc. So, bottom line, they have expanded, yet again, the number of government employees (non-productive drag on the economy) so that people have to pay a bunch of money to see something that belongs to everyone and with the enormous costs, just adds additional expense to the California budget. Hopefully, Arnold can fix this foolishness.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Beautiful! Lots of great information at www.monolake.org to get ready for your trip!


More Information

Contact Information:
Sierra District Headquaters, P.O. Box 266, 7360 West Lake Boulevard , Tahoma, CA, 96142-0266, Phone: 530-525-7232, Fax: 530-525-6730

Additional Information:
California Lakes and Reservoirs - The lakes and reservoirs described here range from huge reservoirs to small mountain lakes. The lakes are often part of large recreation areas, National Forests or State Parks.
High Sierra State Parks and Recreation Areas - The High Sierra Region, located in central California, stretches westward from Nevada to Yosemite National Park. Lake Tahoe, eight state parks, two state historic parks, three state recreational areas, and a state reserve.
Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road - Observe a great diversity of flora and fauna, as well as craggy mountains and ruffling meadows, while journeying along this byway as it crosses the valleys and ridges of Yosemite National Park for 64 miles from east to west.

Links:
California State Parks - Official agency website.

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