The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve was established to preserve the spectacular tufa towers, calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. It also protects the lake surface itself as well as the wetlands and other sensitive habitat for the 1 – 2 million birds that feed and rest at Mono Lake each year. Through a cooperative effort between CA State Parks, US Forest Service, and the Mono Lake Committee, naturalists lead guided walks at the South Tufa Area Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bird walks are offered at the Mono Lake County Park and State Natural Reserve boardwalk mid-May through Labor Day.
The South Tufa Interpretive Trail at our main visitor site offers a one-mile self-guided nature trail to the shore and through the spectacular grove of tufa towers. This is the best place to visit if you have time for only one stop. The first ¼ mile of this trail is accessible, and hard packed native soil beyond the first 1/4 mile may be useable for some people with limited mobility.
Boardwalk Interpretive Trail
A boardwalk interpretive trail below the Mono Lake County Park allows access to the north shore tufa area and marsh. Trailhead, parking, and restrooms are available at the County Park, off Hwy 395 on Cemetery Road. Accessible routes connect parking to the restroom and boardwalk which is approximately 1/2 mile long.
The Lake Trail: starts at the Old Marina Parking lot located directly off highway 395 (1 mile north of Lee Vining) and provides .35 of a mile of accessible trail (including the Dave Gaines boardwalk) through the wetland to the shore. Trail routes provide close up access and views of the lake and associated tufa. Accessible restrooms are provided near the trailhead parking lot. UPDATE December 2013: Due to severe weather conditions portions of the trail surface have failed which may impede passage for some people with mobility disabilities. Work to resurface the trail is scheduled to occur in the spring of 2014.