The reserve was established to preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. It also protects the lake surface itself as well as the wetlands and other sensitive habitat for the 1 – 2 million birds that feed and rest at Mono Lake each year.
Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, over 1 million 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 Sierra 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 as the ocean and very alkaline.
Camping — There are no campgrounds in the Scenic Area or in the State Natural Reserve. However, several campgrounds are nearby (see symbols on map). Most charge a fee and feature designated sites and a maximum length of stay. Dispersed camping is allowed in limited locations of the Scenic Area above the elevation 6,417 feet. Campfire permits are required for any open fires and use of barbecues or gas stoves. Permits can be obtained at the Scenic Area Visitor Center
Swimming in Mono Lake is a memorable experience. The lake’s salty water is denser than ocean water and provides a delightfully buoyant swim. Keep the water out of your eyes or any cuts, as it will sting. Carry fresh water to rinse off your body.
Boating provides a wonderful perspective on Mono Lake, but sudden winds can make it dangerous to venture far from shore. Canoes and kayaks most often launch at Navy Beach, where vehicles can unload boats close to the water. See the map page for boating restrictions.
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR