Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center
The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center and ESIA Discovery Store is located 1/2 mile (.8 km) north of Lee Vining, California, on U.S. Highway 395, a few miles east of the Tioga Pass entrance into Yosemite National Park (road to entrance is closed in winter).The center is open from April to December, with seasonal variations in days and hours of operation. In summer months, it's open 7 days/week, 8am to 5pm. Bus parking is available. Call ahead: 760.647-3044
This attractive facility, built high atop a vista overlooking Mono Lake in the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, is operated in partnership with the Inyo National Forest, National Park Service and California Department of Parks and Recreation. Within the center, a variety of activities and
Chad, Russ, Kristin, Donna and Nancy from the Mono Basin Visitor Center exhibits introduce the natural and human history of Mono Basin. Enjoy three short films, an interactive exhibit hall, two art galleries, and our Discovery Store. Knowledgeable, friendly staff are also on hand to provide information and help plan your Eastern Sierra adventure. Nearby, interpretive trails lead to Mono Lake and its renowned tufa formations.
Mono is the westernmost basin of the 'Basin and Range Province'- also known as 'The Great Basin'- stretching aross several states from the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. At the heart of Mono Basin lies the unique and majestic Mono Lake, a vast inland sea nestled between 13,000-foot peaks (4,000 m) of the High Sierra to the west, the ancient volcanic Bodie Hills to the north, a rolling landscape of sagebrush to the east, and the towering cinder cones of the young Mono Craters to the south. Here, the high desert environment supports a thriving, fragile ecosystem of interdependent plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world. Extremely unique species and geologic formations have evolved from the ancient waters of Mono Lake, which is twice as salty as the ocean and as alkaline as household ammonia.
To help protect the ecological and cultural resources of Mono Basin, the U.S. Congress created the 'National Scenic Area' concept, and in 1984, designated the region as a National Scenic Area - the first in U.S. history.