A rich natural community
"In the middle distance there rests upon the desert plain what appears
to be a wide sheet of burnished metal, so even and brilliant is its surface.
It is Lake Mono."
—Israel C. Russell, Quaternary History of the Mono Valley, 1889
Print out brochures about Mono Lake's natural history in English, Spanish, French, or Italian!
Mono Lake and its surrounding watershed encompass a unique region in California.
Sagebrush, Jeffrey pines, volcanoes, tufa towers, gulls, grebes, brine shrimp, alkali flies, freshwater streams, and alkaline waters comprise an unlikely world at the transition between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Great Basin desert.
Pronghorn antelope graze in the Bodie Hills while yellow-bellied marmots bask in the high Sierra summer sun. Great Basin spadefoot toads fill the evening air with an endless chorus of croaking while nighthawks hunt for insects in the fading twilight. Trillions of brine shrimp eat and mate beneath the briny waters of Mono Lake as Wilson's Phalaropes feast on alkali flies in preparation for their non-stop flight to South America.
Embracing 14 different ecological zones, over 1,000 plant species, and roughly 400 recorded vertebrate species within its watershed, Mono Lake and its surrounding basin encompass one of California's richest natural areas.