Mono Lake, California
We traveled South past Reno and Carson City with the Sierras to the west. Past the peaks around Lake Tahoe and at the foot of Tioga Pass from Yosemite we found Mono Lake. The lake has no outflow being surrounded by mountains and so the salinity level grows as more and more water evaporates. It contains chlorides, sulfates and carbonates and tastes pretty salty, being almost three times the salinity of the ocean. It is large (about 11 miles long) and shallow (average depth 56 feet) and the water level was 6,428 feet above sea level in 1919 before water began to be drawn from its tributaries and exported for use in Southern California. In 1982 the Lake level had fallen by 456 feet to 6,373, exposing 17,300 acres of lake bed and in 1994 the State Water Resources Board issued a protection order in order to preserve the Lake and restore its level eventually to 6,392 (6377 on 11/01/2016).
The high level of salinity has created unusual tufa (calcium carbonate) pinnacles, deposited over thousands of years around underwater springs. In year’s past, only the tops of the salt pinnacles were seen and now are revealed by the low water level and are a well-known characteristic of Mono Lake.
We stayed in a small RV park at Lee Vining, ate in its only restaurant and enjoy the views of the lake with the Sierras in the background.
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