Sunday, September 7, 2014

Canoe Tour of Mono Lake

One of the highlights of our trip was a canoe tour of Mono Lake, sponsored by the Mono Lake Committee. The tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months. We were advised that the first tour of the day, the 8 am tour, was the best because the lake is calmer and the tour less crowded. Both proved to be the case. The lake was smooth and there were only six people taking the tour--three canoes, each with a guide and two passengers.

The tours leave from Navy Beach, which is a short walk from the South Tufa parking area. Once you put on your life vest and help launch the canoe, you paddle towards South Tufa. I was the bow paddler--our guide was in the stern, providing a running commentary as well as steering--and Bill was seated in the middle, shooting pictures.

It was thrilling to get up close to the tufa--to see the mirror-like reflections in the water--and to enjoy the early morning peace and quiet. We saw gulls, grebes, osprey, and phallaropes. We watched air bubbles break the surface, made by new tufa forming under water. Thanks to our guide's running commentary, we learned that Mono Lake is the second oldest lake in California--the oldest is Lake Tahoe.

Bill and our guide. Other things we learned from our guide, who was a college student interning with the Mono Lake Committee for the summer: there are 7 trillion brine shrimp in the lake; the lake level has dropped three feet this year; and in the past 40-50 years, the lake has shrunk to half its former size, due to various human interventions.

We highly recommend this tour. We've been to Mono Lake before, but had never been on the water--it adds a whole new dimension to the experience. For more information, visit or email