Eastern Sierra Nevada’s Alien Landscape

Nestled is the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains some 330 miles north of Los Angeles is a alien landscape featuring a lake so inhospitable it offers almost no life in its waters. This is majestic Mono Lake. Formed over 700,000 years ago, its waters are trapped in the valley’s low spot with no natural outlet.

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With the evaporation that occurs during the summer, the lake obtains a high salt content, almost double of the world’s oceans, allowing brine shrimp to thrive in the hyper salinity of the lake’s waters.

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Migratory birds use the lake as a stopping and breading ground during the year. In a weird twist of fate in the 1940s, the City of Los Angeles began draining water from Mono Lake and the Owens River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This caused the Mono Lake’s water to drop 45 feet and the lake to lose over half its water.

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Lowering the water level exposed the lake’s tufa towers—caused by leaching carbonate minerals into the lake over the milliner. Sadly, some of these tufa towers will disappear as the water level of the lake is raised over the next 20 years.

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Located off US 395, the lake and its shore offer breathtaking views of the high plains, blue skies, and Sierra Nevada Mountains. If the scenery happens to look familiar, Clint Eastwood’s 1973 hit, “High Plains Drifter” was shot on location at Mono Lake.

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Have you passed through the majestic Mono Lake? We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment!


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  1. carl /

    interesting place

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