Volcanic islands, bizarre geologic tufa formations, the Sierra Nevada crest rising 6,000 feet above the lake's surface, brine shrimp, alkali flies, and diverse bird life at the edge of the Great Basin desert make Mono Lake a destination unlike any other.
Mono Lake is famous for its water issue. Mono Lake is protected today in part because of the success of water conservation and water recycling in Los Angeles. Mono Lake is an example of sustainable water use and balanced solutions that meet the real water needs of people and the water needs of our environment.
Thousands of birds comprising over 100 species, trillions of brine shrimp, and countless alkali flies flock to Mono Lake in the summer. Mono Lake is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (American Birding Association and Audubon). The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area was designated by Congress in 1984 to protect the cultural, geologic, and natural features of the area surrounding Mono Lake.
Mono Lake is also rich in cultural heritage and tells a story of the earliest people, the Kutzadika'a, who inhabited the region before the first European Americans arrived in 1852. The name Kutzadika'a roughly translated means "fly eaters." About 200 people spent most of the year at Mono Lake harvesting the Kutsavi, or alkali fly pupae, which provided much needed fat and protein for their annual food gathering cycle.
South Tufa, located off of Highway 120 East on the south shore of the lake, is a Forest Service recreation site where visitors can view Mono Lake, "tufa" towers, and abundant wildlife. Free naturalist led tours are available at South Tufa from Memorial Day through Labor Day