Mono Lake–South Tufa Trail

Lee Vining, California

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To visit Mono Lake is to enter another world. The landscape is reminiscent of a science fiction movie or a walk on the moon. The tufa towers stand above the water like eerie sentinels guarding the massive salt lake. Tufa towers are made of ancient deposits of calcium carbonate that once seeped up from springs under the water and over millennia evolved into the distorted towers that exist today. Sand flies blanket the water’s edge and scatter at the approach of humans, creating a moving blanket of blackness. It sounds alarming, but they avoid all contact with human flesh. Brine shrimp ply the waters, the only life form capable of surviving in the lake’s harsh salinity, which is several times saltier than the ocean’s.

Mono Lake–South Tufa Trail Professional Review and Guide

"To visit Mono Lake is to enter another world. The landscape is reminiscent of a science fiction movie or a walk on the moon. The tufa towers stand above the water like eerie sentinels guarding the massive salt lake. Tufa towers are made of ancient deposits of calcium carbonate that once seeped up from springs under the water and over millennia evolved into the distorted towers that exist today. Sand flies blanket the water’s edge and scatter at the approach of humans, creating a moving blanket of blackness. It sounds alarming, but they avoid all contact with human flesh. Brine shrimp ply the waters, the only life form capable of surviving in the lake’s harsh salinity, which is several times saltier than the ocean’s."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Lee Vining
Distance: 1.5
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 0.5 to 2 hours
Season: Year-round
Trailhead Elevation: 6,410 feet
Top Elevation: 6,420 feet
Local Contacts: Mono Lake Committee
Local Maps: USGS Lee Vining

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