With college starting soon, I have to say goodbye to Mono Lake a little earlier than my other seasonal coworkers. This summer has been one of the best of my life, so it will be a bittersweet goodbye. As a final goodbye to this amazing corner of the world, here are some of my favorite photos and memories from this summer.
June 2014—Mono Lake level: 6380.4 feet above sea level
Just three years ago, during the middle of California’s historic drought, I visited Mono Lake for the first time. The large, salty lake in the middle of the high desert amazed me and I vividly remember admiring the incredible tufa towers for the first time one summer evening. That was before I worked for the Mono Lake Committee, before I understood the significance of Mono Lake’s level, and the last time I would see the lake with that much water until this month (August 2017). (more…)
We hope you can join us for one of the new Lundy Canyon bird walks this year—on Saturdays at 7:30am. There is so much to see in Lundy Canyon, it really is one of the gems of the Eastern Sierra. I’ve put together this collection of photos from the 2017 season so far, and hope it inspires you to join us!
Lundy Canyon is home to some of the Eastern Sierra’s best birds, wildflowers, and waterfalls along Mill Creek, which flows down the canyon and into Mono Lake.
Nestled in the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, Lundy Canyon is a high-elevation canyon rising from Lundy Lake at 7,858 feet above sea level to the 11,770-foot Black Mountain. (more…)
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the birds that migrate through the Mono Basin, experience Mono Lake by moonlight, learn about the ecosystem impacts of recent fires, or find the best places to see the aspen leaves turn gold in the fall? Mono Lake Committee field seminars offer something for everyone—whether you’re just here for a short time and want to spend a half day with an expert instructor or if you’ll be here longer for one of our three-day seminars. There are still over 20 field seminars you can register for through October. Read more about all the seminars that still have space below.
I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.
This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)
Want to see Mono Lake rising before your eyes? Check out this timelapse from May 25 to June 25, when the lake rose an incredible 1.2 vertical feet!
You’ll see wildlife along the shore investigating the changing habitat as lagoons form, tufa blocks get submerged, and the grass floods. You might also notice that the lake rise speeds up in early June, when warm weather started melting snow in the high country more quickly, sending record volumes of water down the streams and to the lake.
Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end. It’s a remarkable time to be at Mono Lake when it’s rising so fast—make plans to visit this summer and see for yourself!
The question of the year so far is “When will Tioga Pass open?” Your guess is as good as ours. In fact, here’s the office poll—compare your guess to ours!
- Jess: June 16 soft opening; June 17 official
- Elin: June 23 at noon
- Bartshe: June 23
- Ellen: June 24
- Nora: June 26
- Gabby: June 27
- Greg: June 28 at noon
- Lisa: June 29
- Arya: June 30
- Andrew: June 30
- Geoff: July 1
- Julissa: July 6
At 9,945 feet above sea level, Tioga Pass is the highest point on Highway 120 and the California State Highway system. There are 26 avalanche zones that this year had snowdrifts upwards of 50 feet, often concealing rocks and trees. Once the road is clear of snow, crews must repair any damage to the pavement, shoulders, and guardrails. The latest Tioga Pass opening date was July 8, 1933, and the earliest was April 29, 1988 … we’re all wondering what it will be this year!
Updated on Tuesday, June 27 at 4:30pm to add that it looks like Lisa will be the winner, unless we get a strange summer snowstorm!
After hearing about Mono Lake from a former intern, I had to check out the area for myself.
I was raised in Massachusetts and was lucky enough to attend college at the University of Vermont, but I had never traveled west past South Dakota before! The aspect that I love most about my time so far in the Mono Basin is how new everything is, from the massive mountains to the crazy weather. Here are some photos from my first few weeks as a summer intern: (more…)
Tioga Pass will not be open for this holiday weekend, and there is still no estimated opening date. But plowing crews have rounded the corner near Ellery Lake, making good progress toward the Yosemite National Park entrance gate.
Warm weather is aiding the crews as they work, but avalanches remain a hazard. As work progresses, pedestrians, bicyclists, skiers, etc. are advised to stay out of these areas (the photos in this post were taken on a Sunday, when crews do not work). (more…)