Over one hundred small shorebirds stand together on the Mono Lake shoreline, with some in flight too, with golden tufa towers in the background and dramatic stormy skies in the distance.

Natural History

A unique, productive ecosystem

Located at the edge of the arid Great Basin and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Mono Lake is an ancient saline lake that covers more than 70 square miles and supports a unique and highly productive ecosystem.

Mono Lake has no fish, but is teeming with trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies, which sustain millions of migratory birds that visit the lake each year. Freshwater streams feed Mono Lake, supporting lush riparian forests of cottonwood and willow along their banks. Along the lakeshore, scenic limestone formations called tufa towers rise from the water’s surface.

Mono Lake and its surrounding basin encompass one of California’s richest natural areas—learn more by visiting one of the pages below.

Related Posts

Visit Mono Lake from Home

Watch The Mono Lake Story film

Learn more about the natural and political history of Mono Lake.

Self-guided tour of South Tufa

Learn about Mono Lake on your own schedule and at your own pace.

Live Mono Lake webcams

See multiple live views of Mono Lake from wherever you are.

Top photo courtesy of Marie Read.