Mono lake and Mammoth mountain

Mono lake should be on your list of  ‘bizarre things to see’. And while you are here, visit the nearby town of Mammoth lakes to the famous Mammoth mountain. Why? Let me tell you all about Mono lake and Mammoth mountain.


Mono lake is a large, saline lake in Mono county, California.
Mammoth mountain is a lava dome complex near the town of Mammoth lakes. From  Mono lake, the town of Mammoth lakes is a mere 30minutes drive.

Mono lake and Mammoth mountain

Lying in the Eastern Sierra region of California, what makes this lake unusual is its towering limestone rock formations called ‘tufa’. These are formed when the underwater springs (rich in calcium) come in contact with the lake water rich in carbonates. With all the calcium carbonate around, you can surely imagine the unpleasant smell. Also, with the lack of any outlet from the lake, high levels of salts accumulate in the lake.

Read more about Mono lake here.

If you are coming in from the west on US 395, you get the first glimpse of Mono lake from the viewpoint on Highway 395.

During Autumn, the drive on CA 108 to US 395 is beautiful. There’s a big patch of Aspens just before reaching the lake viewpoint.

We stopped near the visitor center and walked around; this part of the lake has smaller tufas and sticky surroundings.

South tufa point has larger concentrations of towering tufas. We visited this area in the evening, hiked around, and witnessed a lovely sunset.

If you look closely at the water you will see the ‘famous’ Mono lake brine shrimp, a staple for the birds here. There’s birding and boating here in summer. Apparently Mono lake is a vital resting and eating stop for many migratory waterbirds.

A good place to grab breakfast/lunch near Mono lake is Nellie Deli, located in the Mobil gas station at the junction of Highway 120 and 395.

Mammoth lakes town is home to Mammoth mountain which has a large ski area famous in the Eastern Sierras. Mammoth mountain was formed in a series of eruptions ages ago and still produces hazardous volcanic gases that kill trees in the surrounding area. Our visit to Mammoth mountain and the lake next to it, Horseshoe lake was a quick one; didn’t want to inhale all that carbon dioxide. (Not recommended for small children and pregnant women.)


We stayed at the Sierra Nevada Resort in the town of Mammoth lakes.
There are a few hotels in the small towns of Bridgeport, Lee Vining, and June lake. Mammoth lakes town is bigger compared to the other three.
Lee Vining is the closest town to Mono lake. .

Nearby attractions

Add Mono lake to your list and tell me your experience.

One thought on “Mono lake and Mammoth mountain

Leave a Reply