In the middle of the Eastern Sierras in California near Yosemite National Park, you’ll find the ancient and mystical Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. 

What’s special about Mono Lake, California?

At over a million years old, Mono Lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America and has an average depth of 100ft. Mono Lake is known as the Dead Sea of California. It’s 2.5 times saltier than the ocean and high in alkalinity. 

South Tufa Towers Loop Trail

I really enjoyed the dense tufa formations and outcrops here and those forming islands a little offshore. There are several stretches of beaches here that are colorful and picturesque with the tufas. 

Where is Mono Lake?

Mono Lake is situated in the Eastern Sierras near the town of Lee Vining. It’s 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Yosemite’s Tioga Pass entrance and 20 minutes from Mammoth Lakes.

Saving Mono Lake, California

Mono Lake is also a good example of the power of people coming together for a good cause: to protect Mother Nature and unique ecosystems like this. Mono Lake’s surface level once stood at an elevation of 6,417 feet in 1941.

It was during this year that the Los Angeles Department of Water built a reservoir in the Mono Basin. This aqueduct providing LA with water drained Mono Lake’s main tributaries raising the salinity level of the lake and taking away its freshwater supplies.   

The dropping levels caused a land bridge to form between the shore and Negit Island, home of thousands of nesting migratory birds. This land bridge gave predators a way to kill huge portions of the bird population causing an ecological crisis.