Turquoise waves wash up on the sandy colored shores of Mono Lake, and the landscape shifts from yellow grasses to bright green plants striped with darker rocky swaths. The Sierra Nevadas loom dark blue in the background.

Popular Mono Lake destination, South Tufa, to reopen soon

After a months-long closure, the South Tufa area and Navy Beach will be reopening soon; the exact date is yet to be announced.

These two popular visitor locations along Mono Lake’s south shore were closed in mid-August when the Beach Fire was ignited by lightning. The fire was contained after approximately ten days, and had burned nearly 3,800 acres of sagebrush, bitterbrush, and greasewood.

A man and a woman with their backs to the camera walk towards a grouping of tufa along the gray rocky beach path through green and yellow grasses.
In early October, Committee staff went with State Park Ranger Catherine Jones to see the fire damage at Navy Beach and South Tufa. Photo by Rose Nelson.

With much of the area’s vegetation burned, land managers from the Inyo National Forest and California State Parks are concerned about off-road vehicle use, which has the potential to cause significant resource damage to tufa and shoreline habitat. Firefighters worked hard to fight the fire while also preserving that habitat, and post-fire rehabilitation of the site is nearly complete for the season. Driving vehicles and riding bicycles off of established roads is prohibited in the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, a designation that encircles Mono Lake and includes the South Tufa and Navy Beach areas.

Once South Tufa reopens to the public, you can listen to the self-guided South Tufa tour at monolakemobile.org as you follow the trail through the tufa groves. In the meantime, visitors can access Mono Lake at Old Marina or County Park.

A small brown sign which reads " Area Closed Do Not Enter" is stuck into the sand, and surrounded by burnt and blackened patches of tufa and dirt.
The tufa and shoreline habitat is more sensitive to disturbance since the fire; many areas have been closed to prevent further damage. Photo by Rose Nelson.

Top photo by Rose Nelson.