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Nothing exists like this collection of "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Hidden east of Yosemite on the border of California and Nevada, this lake has long drawn photographers, artists, and outdoors lovers. Bird watchers stand gaping at the 1-2 million birds that feed at Mono Lake each year. For over a million years, this lake has collected salt from the eastern Sierra, and with no outlet, it is now one of the saltiest in the country. Naturalists lead walks of the 65-mile lake, focusing on the tufa formations as well as bird-watching tours. Swimmers (no need ...

Nothing exists like this collection of "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Hidden east of Yosemite on the border of California and Nevada, this lake has long drawn photographers, artists, and outdoors lovers. Bird watchers stand gaping at the 1-2 million birds that feed at Mono Lake each year. For over a million years, this lake has collected salt from the eastern Sierra, and with no outlet, it is now one of the saltiest in the country. Naturalists lead walks of the 65-mile lake, focusing on the tufa formations as well as bird-watching tours. Swimmers (no need for a life-jacket as this is one buoyant body of water), boaters, and kayakers delight in the waterways, while hikers populate the South Tufa Trail for fantastic photo opportunities. Though there is no camping in the state reserve, there are plenty of campsites in the surrounding forest. There are also fantastic hot springs as well. Fall brings a magical display of color to the trees. And there is nothing like the winter light upon the volcanoes hugging the lake.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

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    Summer, fall, winter, spring