Places to Paddle tm
Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

Mono Lake near Lee Vining, California USA
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Copyright 2005 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Jorge Vazquez
  • Date Submitted: 8/2003
  • Location: Near Lee Vining, CA USA
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: we paddled about 1 mile due to the winds, but one could paddle farther
  • Water: very salty
  • Wildlife: Brine Shrimp, Sea Gulls, Cactus, desert shrubs
  • Special Regulations: Don't climb on TUFAs nor take any plants or wildlife


  • Directions: From Los Angeles or the Reno, Lake Tahoe area one would 395 to the town of Lee Vining. Lee Vining is approximately 30 minutes North of the town of Mammoth Lakes, California. There are two major entries for kayaks onto the Lake. Both are easily accessible from 395. The entry points are from two sandy beaches and in non-windy conditions make for easily getting into and out of the Lake.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: Beach
  • Parking: Beach is accessible through a gravel road
  • Facilities: Chemical toilets. However we found them clean and not a problem. We had a picnic on the beach, but had to bring our own chairs and blanket. There are no tables.
  • Handicap Access: Very difficult handicap access because there is no ramp or cement access.

What We Saw

We kayaked approximately a one mile paddling along the coast.

The Lake is extremely salty due to lack of any outlet. The only known organism that can exist in the Lake are the brine shrimp. The Lake is fed constantly by mountain streams, but the minerals, predominately calcium carbonate, deposit in the Lake.

The scenery is dominated by beautiful mineral deposits, known as TUFAS, that are found everywhere along the Lake. Over time as the Lake level has risen and fallen these TUFAs have formed. The rising and falling has had its origins in both climate and manmade causes.

Until recently the Lake level was falling, exposing the TUFAs, due to water from the stream feeding it being used by Los Angeles. Recent congressional action has protected the Lake and once again the level is rising.

This dynamic change makes for a beautiful excursion. Because the coast is very sandy it is easy to put ashore and visit these TUFAs.