Roll Into a Salty Paradise: Mono Lake


Canoeing at Mono Lake allows one to view the lake and tufa in a whole new way. PHOTO BY DAKOTA SNIDER/MONO COUNTY TOURISM

Rollin’ with Russ and Lori
By Russ and Lori Tice

Having an adventure in a natural and prehistoric setting, unlike anywhere in the world, is right here for you in Mono Lake.

Mono Lake has a beauty all its own, a captivating peace. With the Sierra Mountains to the west, Mono Lake rests at an altitude of nearly 6,400 feet. Paddle into the salty paradise, as having a kayak journey here is like nothing you have experienced before. Mono Lake has about double the salt content of the ocean.

Mono Lake has such a high salt content, that brine shrimp thrive in this lake, where fish do not. Migratory birds thrive on the brine shrimp, making this ecological gem vital to many species of wildlife. Folks from all over the world come to visit this ecological wonder.

The granddaddy of lakes in California, Mono Lake is said to be over 750,000 years old. Our beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains feed Mono with snowmelt, and there is no river outlet from the lake. Mono Lake covers over 60 square miles and is less than 15 miles wide.

Taking your kayak out on Mono Lake is easy to do. There are also some kayak tours that may be available locally to Mono Lake. A favorite for kayak visits is up and close to the “tufa formations” that grow from beneath the waters of Mono Lake. Freshwater springs seep into the very alkaline lake waters. The reaction is the formation of these tufa towers, quite fascinating to see. From April 1 to September 1, stay clear of the island shores. Seagulls will be nesting there. You also have to be 200 yards away from the lake surrounded tufa towers, as these are Osprey nesting areas.

Russ and Lori suggest bringing your kayak to Navy Beach, at the south shore. Parking is really close to the lake there and getting your kayak in the water there is very user-friendly. It really depends on what you want to see. We want to share some Mono Lake safety items with you as well.



The wind can come up in minutes, especially in the afternoon. Sometimes it is just a breeze, yet hurricane-force winds have happened here as well. Even a light breeze can make kayak paddling difficult here. The water can go from smooth to choppy. Stay close to shore and wear flotation gear. You know what? Have a leash attachment to your kayak. Remember the size of this lake, be safe.

Most types of watercraft are allowed on Mono Lake, but Russ and Lori have only seen light kayak and paddleboat activity on the lake over the years. The salinity of the water and alkaline conditions may be why folks with powered boats prefer other venues.

Treat yourself and take a very cool tour with a knowledgeable naturalist guide. On weekends during the summer, you can board a canoe and enjoy the company of others with the same interest. The Mono Lake Committee offers this, and at this printing can be reached by going online at MonoLake.Org or calling 760-647-6595. Kayak rentals and tours very close to the lake at Caldera Kayaks and Mono Basin Kayak Rentals.

Mono Lake offers a unique opportunity for paddling that will have you returning time and again. There is no need to venture very far away from shore. Just paddle out a ways, relax, admire, and respect this that God has created.

Sometimes, visiting a place such as Mono Lake helps us to unwind more, stress less, and understand that relaxation comes from within. Allow your spirit to breathe and enjoy the beauty. Take time to relax, enjoy the majesty of Mono Lake, and Let’s Get Rollin’!

To contact Russ and Lori, email them at