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Mono Basin and Mono Lake dominates the northern part of the forest near the town of Lee Vining. (Area Map) Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering 60 square miles; 13 miles east-west by 8 miles north-south. It is an ancient lake (over 700,000 years old) - one of the oldest lakes in North America. Mono Lake is two and a half times as salty as seawater. You would think that nothing could live in such an inhospitable environment, but the water is teaming with life; brine shrimp and alkali fly larvae! This attracts millions of birds as they pass through on their migratory flights. But it's not just the wildlife that makes Mono Lake so unique; tufa (pronounced too-fa) towers have formed in the lake making the landscape truly fascinating. To protect the outstanding geologic, ecological and scenic resources of Mono Basin, Congress has designated it as the Mono Lake national scenic area.

Here are a few additional popular trips to take advantage of the East Side Sierra - Inyo National Forest and all a short distance from Mammoth.

Dechambeau Ranch Hot Creek Geological Site
Hayden Cabin Mono Mills Historic Railroad District
Homer Mining District Piagi Park
Lon Chaney Cabin Prescott Mining District
Lake Mining District Consolidated Gold Mine

South of Mammoth Lakes, the Owens Valley runs in a north-south direction from north of Bishop to south of Lone Pine. To the east of the Owens Valley stand the Inyo-White mountain ranges. The White Mountains are a typical Great Basin Range characterized by a great rock mass of uninterrupted material that has been thrust upward 10,000 to over 14,000 feet. White Mountain Peak is the third highest peak in California at 14,250 feet, short of Mount Whitney by a mere 245 feet. This range differs greatly from the Sierra range both in structure and in climate. The climate of the Whites is arid desert and is seemingly an unlikely place to find the oldest living trees, the Bristlecone Pines. The Bristlecones have survived for more than 40 centuries, exceeding the oldest giant sequoia by 1,500 years. Their great age has attracted worldwide interest. Tree ring chronologies, dating back to 6700 B.C., are used in a variety of research programs, including the reconstruction of climatic history, measurement of past isotope concentrations in the atmosphere, and calibration of the radiocarbon time scale. These trees, besides their scientific value, are beautiful with their twisted and gnarled trunks, which have withstood the test of time. If trees could speak, one wonders what stories the 4,692 year-old Methuselah tree would tell!

West of the town of Lone Pine, you may recognize the unusual rock formations of the Alabama Hills. This area has long been a favorite location for television and movie filmmakers. With majestic Mount Whitney as a backdrop, it's no wonder that you see this area frequently on your TV screens.

June Lake
Nidever Mountain Guides
Po Box 446
June Lake, CA 93529

Mammoth Lakes
Sierra Mountain Center
Private Registered Guide Service
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Cosley Houston Guides
Certified Mountain Guide
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

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