Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center
The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, ½-mile north of the town of Lee Vining, is open seasonally in the warmer months and houses beautiful interpretive displays about the wonders of Mono Lake. It is geographically, geologically, and historically unique and wonderful. Of its many fascinating features, none are stranger than the Tufa towers that appear to rise out of the water in unearthly formations. These tufa towers are calcium carbonate deposits which form under the lake’s surface as freshwater springs bubble up into this excessively salty and alkaline lake. The lake in its present form was probably created by the Long Valley eruption some 760,000 years ago, but it is thought that it may also be a remnant of a larger, older lake that covered much of Nevada and Utah and is 1 million years old now, one of the oldest lakes in north America. This desert lake lies in a closed basin, which allows no outflow of water, resulting in high levels of salt in the water. Even so it has an unusually productive ecosystem revolving around the brine shrimp that thrive in its alkaline waters.
The lake was named for the Mono People, a Native American Paiute tribe that historically lived in the area. The county was named after the lake. Locals pronounce it moh-no.
Lee Vining Creek Trail, Lee Vining, CA 93541