Things to see and do in and around Lee Vining.

Places to Visit

There's a whole lot to do around here — and if you have any questions, you can always ask the folks at the Visitor Center! Some of these suggestions come from the Mono Lake Committee.

Sunset Tours of South Tufa
Join a trained naturalist for a free, one-hour walking tour of the world-famous South Tufa grove and learn about Mono Lake's million-year old ecosystem. This one-mile walk meets daily during the summer months, and is led by interpreters of the Mono Lake Committee. Tours are also offered by the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve and the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area. In the winter, guided walks and cross-country ski tours are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays. For additional information about these sunset tours, visit our in-depth Mono Lake Tour page, written by former Park Ranger, David Carle. To learn more about the South Tufa, read Tufa Thoughts, also written by David Carle.

 

Lee Vining Creek Tours
Meander along Lee Vining Creek with a trained naturalist, learn about this Great Basin stream, and discover how it is being brought back to life. Tours are offered by the Mono Lake Committee during the summer months, and pamphlets with self-guided tours are available at the Information Center.


Canoe & Kayak Tours
Explore Mono Lake's unique beauty from a different perspective! Canoe and kayak tours depart on weekend mornings to explore groves of tufa spires and float alongside diving birds. Tours are offered during the summer months only and reservations are required through the Visitor Center.

Special Summer Field Classes
From birding and wildflowers to photography and hydrology, join an expert instructor for these in-depth weekend classes in the Mono Basin. Schedules are available at the Visitor Center.

Vibrant Fall Colors
The Lee Vining area is spectacular in autumn. The crowds are light and the air is crisp and clean. In October the aspens are dressed in fiery golds and reds. It's worth a special trip — every autumn. Some of the locals deem this as the best time of the year — "the calm before the storm".

Recreational Activities

Fishing

Try your luck along Lee Vining, Rush, or Mill creeks, or at Ellery, Tioga, Saddlebag or Lundy lakes. Wherever you go, you'll find scores of lakes and streams stocked with trout. Lee Vining shops have bait, tackle, and the latest information on where the fish are biting. Consider:

Ellery Lake
Lee Vining Creek
Tioga Lake
Gibbs Lake
Rush Creek
The Tioga Lodge, Lee Vining
The Tioga Pass Resort, Lee Vining

Climbing

As Lee Vining is the gateway to Yosemite National Park, there is an abundance of fine climbing routes available nearby. Yosemite is world-renowned as a climber's mecca, and Tuolumne Meadow, a short drive away from Lee Vining, is certainly one of the Park's finest regions. Yet there is much more. Here's some selected peaks and routes:

Third Pillar (el. 11,480'+) — East face grade 3 — class 5.10
Mt Conness (el. 12,590') — North Ridge grade 2 — class 5.6
North Peak (el. 12,242') — North Buttress grade 3 — class 5.10

Swimming

Swimming in Mono Lake is an activity that might make you appreciate this place even more. There are flies and shrimp and a lot of minerals in the water, but they won't hurt you. In fact, you can float on your back and read a newspaper in this super-bouyant water. For more on the unique experience of swimming in Mono Lake, read Swimming in Mono Lake, written by former Park Ranger, David Carle.

Birdwatching

A major stopover on the pacific flyway, Mono Lake hosts over 98 species of water birds and in 1991 was dedicated as an International Shorebird Reserve. The diversity of habitats in the surrounding area creates a wide range of birding opportunities, including Ouzels, of course! Visit us in the summer and fall for the best birdwatching available. Also, read former Park Ranger David Carle's articles The Mystery of the Red-eyed Bird and Ouzel Omens.


Camping

You'll never find campsites more beautiful than those in Lee Vining and Lundy Canyons and along the June Lake Loop. Numerous campgrounds are maintained by the Forest Service and Mono County. Visit the following for further information on where to camp:

The Tioga Pass Resort, Lee Vining
Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce

Photography

For photographers of all skill levels, the varied and scenic beauty of the Mono Basin offers endless opportunities. The Lee Vining region has everything from glacier-clad mountains and aspen-lined streams to ghost towns and tufa towers.

Winter Fun

Make Lee Vining your headquarters for skiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and winter recreation. The region is a cross-country skier's paradise. Nearby June Mountain's downhill runs delight novice and expert alike. Winter rates are lower than those at other ski resorts. Most highways, with the exception of the high Sierra passes 120, 108, and 4, are open year-round.

The Tioga Pass area above Lee Vining is perhaps the finest roadside spring skiing area in the Sierra. During the winter months, the Tioga Pass Resort is open with lodging and meals. In addition, they will furnish you with a ride up the steep inclines of Lee Vining Canyon, which is not plowed in winter. Here are a couple options:

Mt Dana (el. 13,057') — 12,000' contour Couloir class 4
Dana Plateau (el. 11,560) — Chute Out class 4

Things to See & Do
     
Local Businesses
     
Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce
 
 
 
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