Summertime in the Mono Basin may just be the most magical time in this strikingly special place. Bright days in the sun, still calm clear water, warm starry nights. It’s a perfect time to make the most of these long days by spending them outside. Here at Mono Lake that means enjoying the free summertime activities!
South Tufa tours
6:00pm every day
As you walk through groves of wonderfully weird tufa towers, tour guides will provide insight into all that makes Mono Lake so special. As you learn, you will come to appreciate the fascinating ecology and history of the lake. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk and bring sunscreen and drinking water for these free, hour-long tours. Reserve your space on the tour here. To get to South Tufa from Lee Vining, drive south on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and then east on Highway 120 for 5 miles. Look for signs for “South Tufa.”
8:00am every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Join an expert birder for an informative stroll through lovely landscapes filled with a wide variety of beautiful birds. From the lakeshore to the sagebrush scrub to pine forests, Mono Lake truly is for the birds. Bring sunscreen, drinking water, and binoculars if you have them. These free, hour-long tours meet at Mono Lake County Park on Fridays and Sundays and at Lundy Lake Resort on Saturdays. Reserve your space on a County Park bird walk here and a Lundy Canyon bird walk here. To get to Mono Lake County Park from Lee Vining, drive north on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and watch for signs for County Park on the right. To get to Lundy Lake Resort, from Highway 395 turn onto Lundy Lake Road (located 6.5 miles north of Lee Vining) and continue straight for 5 miles.
Stars over Mono
8:00pm every Monday night (June 27–July 25), 8:30pm every Monday night (August 1–29)
Gaze at a sky full of stars as you hear their stories. You’ll stare into the past as you learn about the very same constellations that humans saw thousands of years ago. Starting June 27, this free, hour-long program will be held every Monday night at 8:00pm (in June and July) and at 8:30pm (in August). To get to South Tufa from Lee Vining, drive South on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and then east on Highway 120 for 5 miles. Look for signs for “South Tufa.”
Panum Crater tours
10:00am every Saturday and Sunday
Explore the 600-year-old volcanic plug dome known as Panum Crater while tour guides reveal the mysteries of the geology of the Mono Basin. You may even spot huge walls of shiny black obsidian rock! These free, hour-long tours will be held on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00am starting from the Panum Crater parking lot. To get to Panum Crater from Lee Vining, drive south on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and the drive east on Highway 120 for 3 miles. Look for “Panum Crater” tour signs.
“Wander a whole summer if you can… time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it…”John Muir
Top photo by Andrew Youssef.