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Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Eastern California’s dramatic landscapes don’t end at the Sierra Nevadas as anyone who’s visited Mono Lake can attest.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview:  Eastern California’s dramatic landscapes don’t end at the Sierra Nevada mountain range as anyone who’s visited Mono Lake will attest... more »

Tips:  • No shade is available at South Tufa Grove.
• Free guided tours of South Tufa Grove are provided in summer months.
• Swimming in Mono... more »

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Points of Interest

1. South Tufa Grove Trailhead

Trailhead and parking. Access is via a dirt road off US120 which all vehicles should be able to managed with little difficulty. South Tufa Grove is well signed from both US395 and US120.

Small fee is payable at the South Tufa Grove location.

2. South Tufa Grove

The tall towers of limestone known as tufa are particularly prevalent on the south shore of Mono Lake and even more so right here at the tufa grove.

Created by the reaction between salty lake water and the calcium rich underwater streams which flow into the lake from the flanks of the Sierras, the resulting limestone accumulates and forms a type ... More

3. Tufa Grove Junction

After walking through the tufa grove headland, and along the coastline admiring the views across the lake, head back inland back towards the parking lot.

Looking across Mono Lake, attention is drawn to the islands situated to the north. The largest of these is the 13 square mile volcanic bulge of Paoha rising 290 feet above the lake.

Volcanic... More

4. New Life

Despite being a hostile environment to fish, life thrives in Mono Lake on a smaller scale, and most obviously in the shape of the brine shrimp and the alkali fly. Organisms on microscopic level also flourish here, including even in the deepest parts of the lake where little oxygen exists.

In 2010 NASA announced that by probing the depths of the ... More

5. Navy Beach

So-called because the military used the area for training until the early sixties, Navy Beach is now the preferred location to put kayaks into the water.

Much quieter than South Tufa Grove and still very accessible, this area can be a pleasant place to take a relaxing dip.

6. Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center

The Mono Lake visitor center is well worth a visit whether you're looking for a general overview of the land or if you'd like to delve deeper into either the natural history or human history of the land.