Lee Vining Travel Guide

  • A California sea gull on a Tufa
    A California sea gull on a Tufa
    by Africancrab
  • California Sea gull
    California Sea gull
    by Africancrab
  • Things to Do
    by Africancrab

Lee Vining Things to Do

  • Agriculture Equipment

    The yard adjacent to the Upside-Down House and Old School House Museum has many agriculture equipment on display. Just make sure the little ones or even the big ones don't climb on them. Not the safest due to all the sharp edges.

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  • Mono Basin History Museum/Old...

    Located next to the Upside-Down House is the Mono Basin History Museum/Old Schoolhouse. Its filled with loads of local artifacts, photographs, books, maps and equipment chronicling the cultural history of the Mono Basin. The volunteers here are very friendly and helpful with any question you may have.

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  • Upside-Down House

    This was something I missed and always wanted to see, so on our way to Reno we stopped here. What a fascinating little house that makes a huge statement.The marker reads: A distinctive local landmark and nationally renowned tourist attraction. It was the creation of - Nellie Bly O’Bryan (1893–1984), visionary, entrepreneur and long time resident of...

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  • Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area

    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...

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  • Tioga Pass Road

    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....

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  • Mono Lake

    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...

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  • Mono Lake Tufa SNR

    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...

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  • See Mono Lake, the awesome salt lake

    Visit the awesome salt lake 'Mono Lake' and explore the shoreline. Here you can see me standing next to one of the tufas.

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  • Mono Lake Park

    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 CommercePO Box 130Lee Vining, CA 93541

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  • Josiah Whitney Geological Survey Marker

    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 ofagriculture at the Sheffield Scientific School, described the...

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  • Panum Crater

    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...

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  • Mono Lake Alkali Flies & California...

    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...

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  • Mono Lake Boating

    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...

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  • Grave of the Unkown Prospector

    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...

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  • Navy Beach Historical Marker

    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...

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Lee Vining Hotels

  • Tioga Pass Resort

    Inyo National Forest, about one mile east of the summit of Tioga Pass. Tioga Pass is the eastern ent

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Couples

  • El Mono Motel

    51 Highway 395, Lee Vining, California, 93541, United States

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Families

  • Lake View Lodge

    The owner, Bill, and the manager, Stephanie, are two of the most unpleasant people you'll ever...

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Lee Vining Restaurants

  • Good roadside stop

    This is a nice find right on 395 in Lee Vining. They have outdoor seating and is attached to a bar that has a pool table and some arcade machines. They are open late for the area. We had the pork spare rib dish. It was good and a large portion that came with french fries.

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  • Best Ice Cream Joint on Hwy 395

    Typical ice cream joint. Not fancy, but who cares if it serves great ice cream. Kind of a local haunt for travelers passing by.

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  • Great Food!

    It had some wonderful views if you sit outside of the patio. A little windy that day, but still worth stopping. Food was pretty good, cannot complain. I pretty good menu and my boys were happy with their food.

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  • A Surprise Stop

    It is unbelievably easy to drive straight past the Mobil Gas Station sitting atop a hill above the junction of US 395 and Hwy 120. In this way, many visitors miss some of the best food on this side of the Sierra Nevada. In fact, Whoa Nellie Deli, hidden within the rest area, was such a good experience we didn't eat here just once- but three times....

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  • A Diner from the Past

    Nicely’s is an American diner reminiscent of decades past. It is nestled on the main drag of the small town of Lee Vining. It reminds me of the kind of place my parents took us to during family vacations so long ago. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Actually we tried all three and found each to be just fine. Good thing as there is not many...

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  • Food with a lakeview

    Tioga Lodge's restaurant isn't particularly good, but if you choose to sit outside, there are great lakeviews. There is tex-mex food, and some not-to-special dishes; eating here is more for the views than for the food. Most items are somewhat overpriced. I think probably the best thing I had here was their salad, which actually wasn't too bad; my...

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Lee Vining Transportation

  • Monitor Pass

    If Highway 120 over Tioga Pass to Yosemite is still closed due to snow, you may be able to take Highway 89 over Monitor Pass as we did. This road is not too well traveled compared to Highways 50 and 80. It is a winding highway, with steep cliffs, and deep drop offs just beyond the shoulder of the roadway. Guardrails are far from abundant, but as...

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  • Tioga Pass

    Near Lee Vining Highway 120 intersects Highway 395. You can take Highway 120 right into Yosemite National Park. Note that Highway 120 is opened seasonally and will close in the winter. On our visit at the end of April, it was not opened yet. The Rangers the Mono Basin Visitor Center will have information about road conditions in the area.

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  • Reliable Car

    Lee Vining is a relatively remote community located east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. As a small isolated town, there is no public transportation. You will need a vehicle to get to Lee Vining, as well as to see the sights around Mono Lake. This is not the type of country where you would want to break down, so be sure you vehicle is...

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Lee Vining Shopping

  • Groceries and more

    Kind of nice to know when there are nice markets nearby. Especially if your camping, hiking, or just passing by. I will admit, most of the little town and communities have markets along Hwy 395. This was really neat, clean, and had some really nice benches out front to just relax and take in the views.

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  • Great Gifts

    Western type of gifts. Indian blankets, gifts, jewelry, rugs, and leather goods etc. A neat place to stop at even if it is to just stretch your legs. It has this huge statue of a grizzly bear out front. Pretty cool!

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  • Lee Vining Hotels

    6 Hotels in Lee Vining

    1 Reviews

Lee Vining Off The Beaten Path

  • Bishop, on Highway 395

    Bishop, in Inyo county, prides itself to be the "Mule Capital of the World". It is on US Highway 395, the main North-south road, immediately east of the Sierra Nevada. We drove Highway 395 several times through Bishop. Bishop is 65 miles south ro Lee Vining and Mono Lake, 85 miles south to the fork to Bodie.For more, look at my Bishop page.

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  • Bodie, once a busy city, now a ghost...

    Bodie is one of the well preserved ghost towns of the west. It is in Mono county, 120 km south to Lake Tahoe, at an elevation of 2,550 m (8,400 feet). To reach Bodie, you must drive a dusty 8 km (13 miles) long road, off of state highway 395. The fork on Highway 395 is 20 miles north to Lee Vining and Mono LakeThe town was abandoned around WWII and...

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  • Spectacular Mono Lake

    Be sure to check out Tioga Lodge, three miles north of Lee Vining. It is the only accomodations available on Mono Lake. They offer a resturant, wine bar, lake access for launching boats as well as wonderful affordable rooms. They also offer a tour guide who is exclusivly the only tour boat on Mono Lake. Don't drive by this place! It is hard to see...

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Lee Vining Sports & Outdoors

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    by mtncorg Written Sep 4, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You can bring your own kayak or join with a local guide to explore the lake from the water. Boats put in at Navy Beach, about a mile east of the South Tufa area. The lake is deceptively large, so don't get carried away. You are not allowed to land on the islands off the north edge as this is the nesting area for most of the California gulls in the State. The water is very salty, so don't forget to bring a supply along with you. You will be up close and personal with the gulls as they bop along gulping up brine shrimp in the primordial soup that is the lake. Be careful also with winds as the day can change rather quickly from mirror glass smooth to anything but.

    Equipment: Bring your own boat or join a local tour.

    Kayaker makes his silent way through the tufa Sign showing distances from Navy Beach put-in Sandflies, still waters, giant mountains A truly unique kayaking experience!
    Related to:
    • Kayaking
    • National/State Park
    • Birdwatching

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Lee Vining Favorites

  • Unique Terrain

    Mono Lake and its surrounding area offer some unique terrain. It is not uncommon to see tumbleweeds, trees, and snowcaps in one landscape. It is just beautiful country.

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  • Bird Nesting

    The islands in Mono Lake are major nesting areas for many species of birds. As the lake level dropped due to water diversion, some previous islands became peninsulas. Formerly protected nests became vulnerable to predators, both mammal and reptile.

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  • Mono Lake

    Lee Vining rests on the edge of Mono Lake. Mono Lake covers over 65 square miles and is over one million years old. The lake has no outlet, which contributes to the salinity of the water. Streams have long carried salts and minerals into the lake. The evaporating water leave the salts and minerals behind. The lake is far more salty than ocean...

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Explore Deeper into Lee Vining
Sheriff James P. Donlan Historical Marker
Things to Do
Lee Vining Historical Marker
Things to Do
Mono Lake Old Marina Site
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Mono Lake Vistor Center
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Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
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The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Books
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Greater Sage-grouse
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Birds at Mono Lake
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A nice place for a snack!
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Tufa towers
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Is that snow ?
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History of Mono Lake
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Arrival at Mono Lake
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Grazing cows
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Mono Lake Committee Visitor Center
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Navy Beach
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Enjoy the View
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Sunset
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Sunrise
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Vista Point
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Mono Basin Visitor Center
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Bodie State Historic Park
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Panum Crater
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Navy Beach
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South Tufa Area
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South Tufa Mono Lake
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Mono Lake Visitor Center
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LAKE LIFE
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REFILL OF MONO LAKE
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MONO CRATERS
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NAVY BEACH
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June Lakes Loop
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Conway Summit
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Old Marina
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Mono Lake Sunrise
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Mono Lake Sunset
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Mono Basin Visitor Center
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Mono Lake Vista
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Lee Vining Canyon
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Ellery Lake
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Map of Lee Vining

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