Skip to main content

Mono Lake

 

Mono Lake, located 30 miles north of Mammoth Lakes along U.S. Highway 395, is the largest natural lake completely within the borders of California. This saline (salt water) body of water in the heart of the desert has a natural beauty that is as rich as the area’s history. From the geologic birth of the lake just under a million years ago to the present ongoing conservation efforts, the diverse history of Mono Lake has components that will interest any visitor to the Eastern Sierra region.

Geologic History of Mono Lake

Mono Lake Basin was formed by the same geologic processes that shaped the Nevada and Eastern Sierra landscape over the past several million years. Extension, or pulling apart, of the Earth’s crust has created north/south trending mountain ranges flanked by deep, long valleys. Later volcanism (around 2.5 million years ago) poured thick accumulations of molten rock (basalt) into the valleys, shaping the landscape and creating natural dams that controlled the flow of water.

The basin began filling with water around ¾ of a million (750,000) years ago, or around the time that the Long Valley Caldera violently erupted to the southeast of the lake. Water sourced from melting ice sheets located on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains flowed downslope and was captured by the basin. During this time in the Earth’s history, the region’s climate was cooler and wetter, limiting evaporation from the lake and providing abundant precipitation. These climatic conditions likely persisted until the end of the latest ice age (around 11,000 years ago), when Mono Lake reached it’s greatest depth of 900 ft. At the termination of this ice age, the climate naturally shifted to drier, warmer conditions and the alpine ice sheets became extinct, cutting off a major supply of fresh water to the basin.

Mono Lake is what geologists refer to as an endorheic basin, meaning that water flows into the lake, but the lake has no outflow. With no outflow, salts accumulate in the lake as water evaporates, making the water body hypersaline (more salty than the ocean) and creating a very unique ecosystem.

Volcanic activity has been ongoing in the Mono Lake Basin for at least the past 2.5 to 3 million years. The most recent volcanic eruptions, which occurred only 400 years ago, are related to the conical cinder cones of Mono Craters to the south of the lake (flanking U.S Route 395). These ‘modern’ eruptions formed the Paoha Island in the center of the lake, which is now an important breeding ground for a variety of song and sea birds.

Along the southern shoreline of Mono Lake, large tufa towers or pinnacles rise above the water’s surface. These iconic pillars, comprised of precipitated calcium carbonate, formed over thousands of years by the interaction of freshwater springs and the highly alkaline waters of Mono Lake. Today, several of the large tufa towers are now nesting sites for predatory Osprey and bird watching is strongly encouraged.

 

Indigenous History

A small band of the Northern Paiute Tribe known as the Kucadikadi, or pupae eaters, were some of the first humans to inhabit the Mono Lake region. These indigenous people were primarily supported by the lake, obtaining a substantial amount of their nutrition from the larvae of the alkali flies that live in and around the muddy shorelines. The Kucadikadi were exceptional basket weavers and by the 20th century, many of the remaining tribe members relied on the tourist trade for existence.

Monoville: Digging up the past

In 1859, migrant prospectors discovered placer gold along the northwest shores of Mono Lake and the town Monoville instantly sprung up, quickly reaching a population of 1200 residents a year later. Although devoid of the hefty nuggets that made the western Sierra slope so popular, the Mono Lake mining district contained large amounts of what the miner’s termed “shot gold”, which are flat flakes about the size of rice. This made recovery difficult for individual miners and by the early 1860′s, most of the mineral claims were consolidated by large hydraulic mining companies.

In an attempt to economically recover the fine gold flakes from the hills flanking the lake, a 12 to 14 mile long ditch and sluice network was constructed in the early 1860′s to provide water for mining. Water from Virginia Creek was transported to the arid Monoville area for large-scale hydraulic mining. This labor intensive and costly undertaking did not pan out for the miners of Monoville and by the middle of the 1860′s, almost all of the residents had emigrated from the area to more promising mining towns.

The Monoville workings were the first major gold discoveries in the Eastern Sierra region and the excitement caused a rapid influx of businessmen and miners to the Mono Lake Basin. Twenty years after the discovery at Monoville, prospectors struck gold at nearby Bodie and the region again experienced a period of rapid population growth as the mines began producing precious metals.

Although very little remains of the Monoville town site today, visitors can still get a grasp on the harsh conditions 19th-century miners endured when extracting natural resources in the west. None of the town’s buildings are still standing, although remnants of the water ditch and the scars of hydraulic mining are still apparent throughout Rattlesnake Canyon. To get to the site, head east for a short distance on the maintained Conway Ranch dirt road, which is located about one mile north of the junction of U.S. Route 395 and State Route 167 (4.5 miles north of Lee Vining, CA). A California State Historic Marker indicates the location of the town site and summer visitors are reminded to be aware of the reptiles that inspired the canyon’s name.

Preservation of Mono Lake

In the early 1940′s, Eastern Sierra runoff water that would have naturally fed Mono Lake was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. Without adequate inflow and recharge from the runoff, evaporation quickly caused lake levels to drop and water salinity levels to increase. By 1990, the lake had lost over half of its water volume and salinity levels doubled, creating an ecological disaster and health hazard (due to airborne alkaline dust) for the region.

In 1994, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued orders to protect the Mono Lake Basin in response to outcries by several conservation groups. Although the lake will likely never fully recover to its pre-diversion levels, lake levels have steadily risen and target lake levels may be reached by the end of the decade. On the positive side, the lowering of the lake exposed the spectacular and photogenic tufa towers that characterize the lake and mesmerize visitors today.

 

The natural beauty of this desert water body is as diverse as its history. For additional information about the geologic, natural, and early anthropogenic history of the region, visit the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center. This facility, located just off of US Route 395 north of Lee Vining, CA., has extensive exhibits informing visitors about the natural and human-influenced history of the lake and seasonal guided group tours of the area are also available.

 

Source:  Jason Abplanalp,  [email protected] www.jasonabplanalp.com

Follow Along on Instagram

Late Friday afternoon walk with our 2 houseguests. #lovewherewelive #mammothlakes #visitmammoth ...

5 0

Sonja recently helped me purchase a condo. My experience with her was only positive. She's knowledgeable, thorough and friendly. She is the consummate professional and the standard to which I would hold any real estate agent. - Alexander R.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #testimonials @side_realestae
...

0 0

Open House This Weekend! Come see this incredible property for yourself!

44 Wagon Wheel Drive
Sunday, October 2
4 PM - 6:30 PM

Link in bio...

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

0 0

Time isn’t always on your side, especially if you’re trying to time the real estate market.

Some homeowners postponed selling while they waited for prices to hit their peak. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait any longer:

💲The market is unpredictable — even experts can’t guarantee what it will do next!
☑️ You could pay more to buy your next home the longer you delay.
🤝 It’s still a great time to sell, but rising mortgage rates are beginning to slow down demand.

You can’t control the real estate market — but you can control when you put your home up for sale 🏡

Contact us to start a conversation about the right time to make your move.

#realestatetips #realestate #houseforsale #greatvalue #newlisting #mammothrealestate #mammothcondos #mammothcabins #sonjasellsmammoth #mammothmarkettrends #timingthemarket #destinationmammoth
...

2 0

BIG bright windows are the main attraction in this spacious 2 bed/2 bath condo in St. Anton. This complex is next door to Canyon Lodge – one of the shortest walks of any Mammoth location! Come see this condo today and get ready for the best winter season of your life!

Link in bio…

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

4 0

If you're renting but plan on buying a house in the near, don't renew your lease without going month-to-month or making sure you can cancel it by giving your landlord a month or two notice.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate #realestatetips #realestatetipsandtricks
...

3 0

Thursday, September 29
9 AM - 11 AM

Stop by and tour 3 amazing Mammoth Lakes Properties tomorrow!!!

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

6 0

Beautiful sunset tonight.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

19 1

Sonja was very knowledgeable and competent in selling our house in Mammoth. She is very personable and answered all of our numerous questions with courtesy, humor, and patience. Despite a greatly slowed real estate market, she sold our house in a reasonable time frame. - Stuart F.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #testimonials
...

9 0

#nofilter Sunday evening neighborhood stroll. ❤️reflections, water, blue skies and fluffy clouds ☁️ #lovewherewelive ...

12 2

If you have a light fixture you want to keep and take with you to your next home, take it down and replace it before you put your house on the market. You can also leave it up and "exclude" it from the sale within your listing, but it can cause issues if a buyer sees it and wants it. Avoid problems by removing it ahead of time.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate #realestatetips #realestatetipsandtricks
...

4 0

Beautiful day at the village. I love the clouds and like to look for shapes or object -- what do you see?

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

8 0

Amazing two-bedroom condo next door to Canyon Lodge! Ski all season long in this cozy mountain home!

Properties Link Below:
https://www.destinationmammoth.com/properties/

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

4 0

Hope everyone is having an amazing time at the Mammoth Trail Fest! If you haven't already make sure to check out this awesome event the rest of the weekend!

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

8 0

Beautifully updated two-bedroom slope side condo just listed for sale. Check it out!

Link in Bio...

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

5 0

What does “Months of Supply” tell us about the market?

To break it down simply:

📊Balanced Market = 6 to 7 months of supply
There are a relatively even number of buyers and sellers.

📈Seller’s Market = Fewer than 6 months of supply
There are more buyers than homes for sale, thus sellers hold the upper hand.

📉 Buyer’s Market = More than 7 months of supply
There are more homes for sale than willing and able buyers, thus buyers have more negotiating power.

Have a question about current market trends? Reach out at any time! We’re here to help you decode the lingo and make the most of today’s market 👨‍💻

#homeownership #sellersmarket #buyersmarket #buyingahome #sellingahome #housingmarket #realestate #realestateagent #mammothrealestate #sonjasellsmammoth #destinationmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothcabins #mammothmarkettrends
...

0 0

SNEAK PEAK! This two-bedroom condo next door to Canyon Lodge will be listed for sale in the next 24 hours!

Check out an early video tour now on our YouTube!

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate
...

7 0

I love working with awesome realtors like Heidi Vetter! How thoughtful is this?!” @vetter_heidi ...

8 0

If your agent isn't available, don't call a random agent to show you a house you're interested in seeing if you plan on having your agent write an offer if you like the house. Agents don't get paid for simply showing houses, so it's inconsiderate to ask an agent to show you a house they have no chance of selling to you.

#mammothlakes #californialife #sierra #easternsierra #mammothlife #vacationliving #mammothlifestyle #dailylife
#sonjasellsmammoth #mammothcondos #mammothrealestate
#destinationmammoth #destinationrealestate #mammothmountain #monocounty #mammothhomes #monocountytourism #monocountyrealestate #realestatetips #realestatetipsandtricks
...

0 0

Let’s Talk

You’ve got questions and we can’t wait to answer them.

We use cookies and tracking technology in connection with your activities on our website. By viewing and using our website, you consent to our use of cookies and tracking technology in accordance with our Privacy Policy.