Lee Vining Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Lee Vining

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    Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area

    by Africancrab Written May 27, 2013
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    Mono Basin is the western most basin of the Range and Basin province which stretches between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges. At the center of the National Forest lies the historic and strange Mono Lake with its unusual growth known as tufa.
    In 1984, congress designated the area a National Scenic area in order to protect the ecological and cultural resources of Mono Basin, the first of its kin in United States history.

    Mono Basin scenic area is one of the few national Forest scenic areas in the country, making it a unique destination. It is also one of only 47 scenic recreational areas that take part in the congressional initiated fee program, meaning that eighty percent of all fees collected returns back tot he collection site, make it self sustaining while providing educational and recreational services

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    Tioga Pass Road

    by Africancrab Written May 21, 2013

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    Tioga Pass (highway 120) is one of the most scenic bypasses in America. This mountain pass is located within the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. State route 120 runs through it and is actually the East entry to Yosemite National Park. Since 1933 there have been closing and opening dates for this pass; the dates vary with weather conditions. This year (2013) it opened on May 11, we still found a substantial amount of snow on the ground.

    It has breath-taking views with view points at different points of the pass. Olmstead and Toulomne meadows stops are a must. We left the park via Tioga and literally stopped at each of the pull outs. We had an amazing time driving through, the views are nothing like I have ever seen anywhere in the United States. I could not believe this was California, it felt like driving through the Alps in Switzerland.

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    Mono Lake

    by Africancrab Written May 20, 2013

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    Located in Lee Vining at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains is Mono Basin.
    Mono Lake is an ancient inland sea; one of the oldest lakes in the Western hemisphere. Its beauty is awe inspiring and hauntingly so. When we got to it, even from a distance the blue waters and white tufa towers sticking out were apparent. The tufas are an eerie mineral structures created by fresh water springs that get petrified through the water's alkaline waters. Of course this takes place over thousands of years.

    The lake is home to migratory birds that feed on the lake flies, they like the alkali flies and small brine shrimp. We found a host of the California sea gulls. There are 325 recorded species of birds in the area making it a bird watchers paradise. For the photographer like me, the images to capture are unimaginable. By the time we arrived the bird population was incredibly large, by late bring it is recorded about 44,000 – 65,000 California sea gulls show up to breed. We saw a lot of the gulls and there were signs warning against getting close to the birds as breeding were in process.

    The birds making such lovely sounds and it echoes in the distance

    From the visitor center, there is an interpretive hiking trail that takes visitors all the way to the lake. Start with the visitor center to get information on all the activities you can engage in, plus the views from up there are breath-taking.

    Guided tours are available upon request, plus you can watch a free movie.

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    Mono Lake Tufa SNR

    by blueskyjohn Updated Aug 5, 2012

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    A nice little stop just outside Lee Vining. Has a boarded walkway to the lake but there are other trails that have access to more of the Tufa. Basically these are limestone outcroppings in the lake that form from the natural spring water and lake water.

    The visitor center is a must. The park ranger staff are very knowledgeable about the area and very helpful about locations of many of the track campsites.

    Thereis a $3 fee to park at the trailhead.

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    Mono Lake Park

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 30, 2010

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    This lovely park has a wonderful play ground, especially if you have kids it offers a wonderful relief for them to get out of the car to stretch and burn off any excess energy. My big kid had a good time spending some time on the playground equipment too! Plus there are restrooms!

    Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce
    PO Box 130
    Lee Vining, CA 93541

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    Josiah Whitney Geological Survey Marker

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 30, 2010

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    Located in the Mono County Park.

    The plaque reads: In the summer of 1863, member of a field party working on Josiah Whitney Geological Survey California camped on the shore on Mono Lake a short distance from this location.

    William H. Brewer, field party member and later professor of
    agriculture at the Sheffield Scientific School, described the tufa's
    formations on the lake shore in his journal entry of July 11 1863:

    Along this shore many curious rocks stand up from
    the water, of lime tufa, made by springs in former
    times. They are fantastic shapes, often worn by
    the water into the form of huge mushrooms, ten to
    twenty feet high.

    This property was purchased by the City of Los Angels
    in 1944, and in 1979 was lease to the
    County of Mono, whose Department of Parks
    and Recreation maintains the park facility.

    This land is provided for your enjoyment by the
    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce
    PO Box 130
    Lee Vining, CA 93541

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    Panum Crater

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 7, 2009

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    The most accessible is Panum Crater which is 500 years old, and consist of rhyolitic and lava dome. You can hike it using the Rim Trail. There is also a shorter trail that climbs to the top of the plug dome which offers beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada and the Mono Basin. There is no shade, so bring lots water and sunscreen. Dress accordingly during Winter too. .

    The other Mono Craters are a 17-km-long chain of rhyolite domes that are estimate 600 to 40,000 years old. The most recent eruptive episode occurred between A.D. 1325 and 1365, during which time there were several explosive eruptions and five separate lava flows that oozed onto the surface, including Panum Dome and North Coulee flow.

    Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
    1 Visitor Center Drive
    Lee Vining, CA 93541

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    Mono Lake Alkali Flies & California Gulls

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 7, 2009

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    Now do not be alarmed if your not an insect person. They are thick during summer, but only hover towards the ground looking for food near the shore in pools. So watch your toes!...LOL..just kidding!

    Here is some good information I jotted down from a brochure: Mono Lake has been called a dead sea, but it actually abounds with life. Few animals can tolerate Mono’s salty, alkaline water, but these few species thrive in astronomical numbers. The food chain begins with green algae, a microscopic one-celled plant. Algae uses decayed organic matter and sunlight to grow. In the winter, when the algae blooms, the lake may become pea soup green.

    Two animals feast on the algae—the brine shrimp and the alkali fly. Alkali fly females can actually walk into the lake in an air bubble and lay their eggs on pieces of rock or tufa. An egg becomes a larva and then a pupa before the adult fly finally emerges. The pupa stage of the alkali fly was collected by the local Kuzedika Paiute Indians and used as a food source and trade item. The half-inch long brine shrimp can be seen in Mono Lake from April through October.

    At the height of the summer season, an estimated four trillion shrimp swim in Mono’s waters. As winter approaches the adult brine shrimp begin to die off, but not before they lay eggs that will overwinter in the lake-bottom mud. The eggs hatch out as the lake water warms in the spring. Mono’s shrimp (Artemia monica) are thought to be a unique species that has adapted to Mono’s special conditions. Mono’s shrimp and flies provide a plentiful food supply for more than eighty species of migratory birds that visit the lake each spring and summer. Particularly notable bird species include three migrants: Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes and eared grebes, and two nesting species: California gulls and Snowy plovers.

    The small, graceful phalaropes are delightful to watch as they pick alkali flies off the surface of the lake or snatch them from the air. From 80,000 to 100,000 phalaropes visit Mono Lake in July and August. They winter in warmer South American climates. Eared grebes visit Mono Lake in astonishing numbers. An estimated 1.5 million of them make a spectacular sight during the fall migration from August through October. Grebes can be seen diving for food in the lake, but are never seen on land as their legs are designed for swimming rather than walking.

    About 50,000 adult California gulls fly to Mono Lake from the coast each spring to nest, where food and island California Gull, Alkali Fly, Brine Shrimp, Algae Detritus (decayed organic matter) nesting sites are plentiful. Approximately 90% of the California population of this species are born at Mono Lake. Endangered snowy plovers nest along the windswept alkali flats of Mono Lake’s eastern shore. Approximately 100 Snowy plovers nest along the windswept alkali flats of Mono Lake’s eastern shore.

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    Mono Lake Boating

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 7, 2009

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    When we were there we saw a couple out Kayaking and it was a most lovely day for it too. From the park site: All types of boating are permitted on Mono Lake, although access is restricted to all islands between April 1 and August 1 each year to protect the nesting gulls. It is advisable to stay near shore while boating, and to be alert for sudden high winds. We recommend launching canoes and kayaks at Navy Beach, on the south shore, where a parking lot is close to the water. For those with boats too large to carry, an unimproved launch ramp is available near Lee Vining Creek.

    Stop by the Scenic Area Visitor Center (Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve) for directions.

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    Grave of the Unkown Prospector

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 7, 2009

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    You might notice this when your traveling North on Hwy 395 or if your going to the South Tufa area, you cannot miss or hopefully you don't. It sits off the road safely at least.

    Grave of the Unkow Prospector:
    On this site is the grave of the unkown prospector a reminder of the great sacrifice made by our ancestors, when they explored and settled the western frontier. And especially to the memory of each and all of the pioneers of Mono County whose resting place is unkown only to God May They Rest In Peace.

    Dedicated Sept. 13, 2003.

    Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce
    PO Box 130
    Lee Vining, CA 93541

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    Navy Beach Historical Marker

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2009

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    The plaque reads: During the Cold War, Mono County was home to one of many remote facilities used by the US Military to test new weapons and weapons systems. A "secret military installation" operated by the US Navy was located along the south shoreline of Mono Lake. During the 1950's and 1960's several branches of the US Armed Forces utilized this test facility to conduct various research. Numerous top-secret exercises were actually performed here during what was called "seismic testing." However with the expansion of other nearby bases, growing public safety and environmental concerns, this facility soon outgrew its usefulness. In May 1962 all operations ceased and soon thereafter the facility was abandoned. Although many scientists, technicians, soldiers and sailors worked at this installation for many years, all that remains today of their activities are a few remnants and the name "Navy Beach."

    This monument and plaque dedicated as a California sesquicentennial event on September 11, 1999. By Bodie Chapter E Clampus Vitus and US Forest Service Mono Lake R.D.

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    Sheriff James P. Donlan Historical Marker

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2009

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    The plaque reads: In July of 1915, the peace and quiet of Mono County was shattered when Sheriff James P. Dolan died as a result of gunshot wounds received while attempting to apprehend two outlaws who had terrorized ranchers a short distance from this location.

    Outraged by the shooting of Sheriff Dolan, the citizens of Mono County quickly formed a Sheriff’s posse which tracked the outlaws to a location near the Mono Craters. Justice was served when both outlaws were killed in a shootout with possemen. A coroner’s inquest determined “Death caused by resisting arrest by duly constituted representatives of the sheriff’s office.”

    Sheriff Dolan, the 15th lawman to serve that office since the formation of Mono County, made the ultimate sacrifice with the fearless determination which had been entrusted to him by the citizens of Mono County.
    By Martin A. Strelneck
    Sheriff – Mono County

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    Lee Vining Historical Marker

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2009

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    LEE VINING

    The name of this community honors leroy vining. in 1852 Lt. Tredwell moore and soldiers of the 2nd infantry pursued indians of Chief Tenaya's tribe from Yosemite across the Sierra via Bloody Canyon. They took back mineral samples and a prospecting party was organized. in this group were the Vinings, Lee & Dick, who established a camp at what is now Lee Vining Creek.

    The Plaque Was Dedicated September 8, 1979 By The Bodie Chapter Of E Clampus Vitus.

    Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce
    PO Box 130
    Lee Vining, CA 93541

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    Mono Lake Old Marina Site

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2009

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    Old Marina Trail: A new ADA accessible trail leading from the parking lot at the Old Marina offers interpretive panels along with the newly replaced "David Gaines" boardwalk which offers Americans with disabilities access to the shoreline of mono lake. A hardened trail leads visitors to the Ice Box Tufa a prehistoric Ice age feature used during historic times as an ice box to keep dairy products cool. Accessible parking is also available at the Old Marina and restroom.

    Old Marina is one of the easiest areas to get a quick glimpse of Mono Lake. Old Marina has some very wonderful large tufa towers as well as a beautiful view of Mono Lake's large islands. Lots of wonderful wildflowers and wildlife to enjoy.

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    Mono Lake Vistor Center

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2009

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    This is a pretty spectacular place to begin your visit. The center is beautifully done with loads of displays, educational information, photograhs, maps, and some very wonderful friendly folks who want to make your visit special. Lots of hands on display for children, which my son just loved. Outside is some wonderful hiking trails down to the lake or just around the area to enjoy the natural plant life. Lots of informational displays and benches so you can just sit and take in the beautiful view. Also, has an award winning film Of Ice and Fire: A Portrait of the Mono Basin gives a splendid 20-minute introduction to Mono Lake and is shown regularly.

    Note: This park is handicapped accessible.

    Hours through October 19th: 8am-5pm daily
    Hours after October 19th: 9am-4:30pm Thurs-Mon

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