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Star gazing in the Mono Basin

July 17th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Charlotte Johnston-Carter, 2017 Mono Lake Intern.

Being far from civilization, having few trees, and the framing of the mountains makes the Mono Basin an amazing place for star gazing. The stars have always created a sense of wonder in the human mind, leading us to explore them with our imagination far before space travel technology. Spending time in the basin has reinvigorated my sense of love and wonder for the night sky. If you’re like me, then I would recommend setting your sights on these stargazing spots.

Starry night skies and moonlit tufa at South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Bristlecone Media.

1) South Tufa
South Tufa can be pretty busy during the day, but once night falls it turns into a peaceful place to stargaze. With the tufa towers surrounding you and the sounds of the lapping water, you will be transported into a magic nighttime environment. Due to the accessibility and short walk, this is a great place to go for people of all abilities and with children. Also, you can be guided through the night sky by experienced rangers during “Stars Over Mono Lake,” a beautiful and relaxing program held Mondays at 8:30pm (July 3–31) and at 8:00pm (August 7–September 4).

2) Old Marina
A bit quieter and still accessible, Old Marina provides an atmosphere similar to South Tufa without the crowds. Here you’ll have a wonderful view of the islands of Mono Lake while you explore the night sky. With sandy beaches, Old Marina will make you feel like you are on near the ocean, adding a whole new element to the stargazing experience.

3) County Park
County Park is a lush green park north of the town of Lee Vining. With a boardwalk weaving through tufa, willows, and marsh to the lake’s edge, this spot is a wonderful and very accessible place to watch the stars. You’ll get a wonderful view of Mono Lake and both its islands while you hear the wind blow through the trees. It’s perfect for people of all abilities and the lushness can be the “cherry on top” to a perfect night of stargazing.

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