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Mono Lake

Facilities - Activities

Interpretive Programs

These programs are a cooperative effort of the State Reserve, U.S. Forest Service and the Mono Lake Committee. Rangers lead tufa walks at the South Tufa area -- tours are at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays May through October.

Tours are offered 3 times daily from July 1 through Labor Day (10am, 1pm, and 6pm); and daily at 1pm in September.

Bird walks are offered at the Mono Lake County Park/State Reserve boardwalk at 8:00 a.m. Fridays and Sundays mid-May through September.

Cross-country ski tours are offered in winter when snow conditions permit.

A spooky Halloween Moonlight Walk is offered each October.

Visitor Center

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 stand ready to help you plan your explorations of Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra.

Outdoor Activities

Hiking, swimming, boating, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy at this unusual lake.

Photographers come from all over the world to capture the interplay of light, desert, and water. The natural history of the lake is described and explained in a one-mile self-guided nature trail at South Tufa.

This spectacular tufa area is the best place to visit if you have time for only one stop. 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.

A swim in Mono Lake is a memorable experience. The lake's salty water is denser than ocean water, and provides a delightfully buoyant swim. Old timers claim that a soak in the lake will cure almost anything. Keep the water out of your eyes or any cuts, as it will sting.


The State Reserve is surrounded by the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, operated by the Forest Service. 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 all 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. We recommend launching canoes and kayaks at Navy Beach, on the south shore, where a parking lot is close to the water. For those with boats too large to carry, an unimproved launch ramp is available near Lee Vining Creek. Stop by the Scenic Area Visitor Center for directions.

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