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Free Traveling Guides » States » California » High Sierras

Mono Lake

mono lake tufa towers

Considered as a vital and productive ecological habitat for several species of migratory and nesting birds, Mono Lake is an alkaline and hypersaline water body located in the Eastern Sierras in California. Situated near the town of Lee Vining, Mono Lake is 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park on Highway 395.

Mono Lake is believed to have formed 760,000 years ago as a result of melting of glaciers. Recognized as one of the oldest lakes in the Western Hemisphere, Mono Lake is a geologically active area with volcanic activity being constantly recorded in the vicinity of the lake. Mono Lake is technically termed as a terminal lake where water melting from glaciers runs through various streams, which form the primary source of water that feeds the lake. Since this lake does not have any outlet, the dissolved salts coming from the streams get deposited resulting in an increased pH and salt concentration.

There are quite many wonderful events happening on the flat and barren land surrounding the Mono Lake. With the waters being three times more salty than sea water, this lake is not suitable for the growth of fish. However, this lake is famous for its vast swarms of alkali flies and brine shrimps that inhabit these waters. The waters also provide rich source of nutrients for the growth of microscopic planktonic algae and photosynthesizing bacteria.

Mono Lake is a vital stoppage point for 2,000,000 migratory birds including 35 species of shore birds such as American Avocets, Killdeers and Sandpipers. Its shores provide excellent nesting grounds for millions of Eared Grebes and Phalaropes that migrate every summer. It is also the second largest nesting ground for California Gulls.

Towers of Tufa are another interesting feature around Mono Lake that is well worth a watch. These towers are calcium carbonate formations concentrated along the southwestern edge of the lake. Bird watching, swimming and kayaking are some of the popular activities at Mono Lake.

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