Visit Mono Lake’s South Tufa Area


On our way to Yosemite National Park, we decided to make a quick stop over at Mono Lake, which is only about a couple of miles away from Yosemite’s east entrance. When I first learned about this place’s South Tufa area, I was very intrigued by the Tufa Towers, so I immediately added it into our itinerary as a quick visit, prior to Yosemite.

tufa pinnacles mono lake mono lake south tufa state reserve mono lake tufa view mono lake limestone tufaWhat’s mind-boggling about this place is how the Tufa Towers were formed. Spring water and alkaline lake water mix together, and the calcium and carbonate salts react to form limestones underneath the water. After many, many centuries, the water from the lake becomes less and less, and only then do the towers become exposed.

mono lake south tufa state reserve mono lake south tufa spiresThe Tufa Pinnacles in Mono Lake was definitely worth the stop. It was very easy to get to, and it was a great short trip before heading into Yosemite National Park. If you are ever in the area, I recommend you make a quick stop, as well!


Location: US -395, Lee Vining, CA. 13 miles East of Yosemite National Park (Google Maps)

Highlights: Known for its unique limestone spires.

Fees: $3 fee to access. Free with the Annual Parks Pass.

Other Notes: Head on over to their visitor center to learn more about the reserve, as well as the alkali flies and (very tiny) brine shrimp that you will see in Mono Lake.

mono lake

What other places just outside Yosemite National Park have you visited? I would love to check them out next!

Don’t forget to read about what we did in Yosemite for the next 3 days, and how we conquered Half Dome, after this quick Mono Lake visit!

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    1. Wow this place looks really cool, unexpected for that part of the country. We’ll have to keep it in mind 🙂

      1. Yes, Karla! You guys should definitely stop by here when you get a chance. Oh, and wait for the sunset! 😉

    1. I really want to go to Yosemite. It’s definitely on my bucket list. I’ve never heard of Mono Lake so when I do finally make it there I will have to add this to my list of places to see. How the Tufa Towers were formed sounds really fascinating and the pictures are beautiful!

      1. Thank you so much, Kristina! Excited for you to visit Mono Lake & Yosemite! Places like these make me feel grateful about living in California <3

      1. Ooooh wow, really? I have never been to Badlands National Park! I hope to, someday!

    1. Never heardheard of such place before but your amazing images tell a good story for anyone who intends visiting.

      1. Thank you, Lex! It’s so much better to see it in person, so I hope you get to visit here someday 🙂

    1. What a beautiful piece of the planet you’ve shared with us all!! I’m sure this is something you will always store carefully in your memories !

      1. Hi, Kim! I sure will, and I also hope to go back and check it out during the sunset!

    1. What a very unique and interesting place which is also beautiful in its own right!

    1. Mono Lake sounds and looks amazing! Wlil have to add to the list!

      1. I’m glad you will, Emilee! Definitely a must-see, especially if you’re on the area.

      1. Thanks so much, Sylvia! It sure was a great discovery. Never knew they had this place in California!

      1. Oh, that’s great that you drive here often, Jill! Yes, definitely a must-visit!

    1. Thanks for this! I’m planning some travelling out that way in the next year and will definitely add this to places to visit :-).

    1. Beautiful post and pictures! I haven’t ventured out to Yosemite but now must include this in my US travel plans 😉

      1. Janine, do let me know if you get to visit! I’d love to hear about what you think.

    1. Wow it looks gorgeous!!! I’ve always wanted to visit it but never saw this beauty before, ever!! I want to go!!

      1. Renata, you should definitely make plans to see this part of California. Definitely worth the drive!

    1. That’s so crazy how they formed! I’ll definitely be adding this stop to my list of places I’d like to visit!

      1. Hello Sondra! Crazy, odd-looking place, indeed! Everyday I learn something new about our planet, and i’m just blown away each time I discover something like this 🙂

    1. I want to take my boys to Yosemite when they get older. This would be a great stop to make while out that way.

      1. I’m sure your boys will enjoy it out here! The place reminded me of Star Wars. 🙂

    1. Wow those photos are just stunning! I also love how you listed some vital information such as the cost. No one would want to show up thinking it’s free and have no cash on them.


      1. Hi Maaya! Thank you very much, i’m glad to have inspired you to visit this place! You’ll love it here 🙂

    1. How cool – I hadn’t heard of the Tufa Towers. I haven’t made it to Yosemite yet, but will certainly add this place to the “to-do” list on the way!

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