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A view of Mono lake from near Conway Summit.

This picture is looking south over the lake. US 395, one of the best drives in all of the US snakes down the valley floor, some 1,700 feet below.


Tufa towers along the southern shore of the lake.

That's 'Too-fah'.


Tufa and scrub brush, framed by the eastern slope of the Sierra.

I think that is Mount Warren (~12,300 feet) in the center and Mono Dome (~10,600 feet) to the left. On the far left, behind the tallest tufa, is the mouth Tioga Pass.


Tufa is formed when calcium water bubbles up from below and combines with the carbonate in Mono lake. You wind up with calcium carbonate (er, limestone) towers growing under the lake.

When the lake level receded, due Jack Nicholson's Oscar-nominated portrayal of Mullholland in the movie Chinatown (or something like that), the tufas were exposed. As the lake fills back up, the tufas will be covered once again.


Mono lake is very salty, very alkaline, and it tastes really bad. The white milky stuff in the water is, I think, carbonate.

Not much can live in Mono lake, except for tiny brine shrimp and little black flies. The water is thick with shrimp, while the water's edge is often black, coated with millions of flies.


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