Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Quick Facts

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve


(760) 647-6331

Map Directions

Things To Do


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.

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 2.5 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean.

Map of Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve (CA)

Latitude, Longitude: 37.977357, -119.129906



  • Boating

    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. Boaters must not approach within 200 yards of Osprey nesting sites located on offshore tufa towers April 1st through Sept. 1st. It is advisable to stay near shore while boating and to be alert for sudden high winds. It is recommended to launch 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 or for more information.

  • Camping

    The State Natural Reserve is surrounded by the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, operated by the Forest Service. There are no campgrounds in the State Natural Reserve or the Scenic Area. Dispersed camping is permitted in most of the Scenic Area above the exposed lake bed lands. Campfire permits are required. Established campgrounds are located nearby in Lundy Canyon, Lee Vining Canyon, and the June Lake Loop.

  • Hiking

    Hikers can choose from several short trails in the reserve. The natural history of the lake is described and explained in a one-mile self-guided nature trail at South Tufa.

  • Picnicking

    The scenic lake provides ample picnicking opportunities along its shore.

  • Water Sports

    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.

  • Winter Sports

    South Tufa, Navy Beach, and the Old Marina area are all wonderful places to cross-country ski when snow conditions permit.


The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.

Winter is a particularly beautiful time at Mono Lake. The crowds are gone, a quiet stillness prevails, and snow crystals sparkle on the tufa towers

Park Partners

Bodie Foundation

(760) 647-6331



Highway 395, 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park, near the town of Lee Vining, California.


The closest major airport to Mono Lake Tufa SNR is Reno-Tahoe International Airport, approximately 115 miles away. From there, myriad car rental services are available, ranging from Alamo to National and beyond. For more information, call 775-328-6400.

Public Transportation

Inyo-Mono Transit offers public transportation throughout the Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake area. For more information on fares and scheduling, call 760-937-9089.

Phone Numbers


(760) 647-6331