Bishop to Mono Lake, & Owens Valley, California

Now it was time to explore north of Bishop!

I think I mentioned before that even at this time of the year, mid April, many roads and destinations were still closed. Their snow had arrived late in the year but had come fast and furious!

This day we turned north up Highway 395, with more superb views of the Sierra’s!

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First stop was Convict Lake, elevation of 7850 ft, with stunning dramatic mountains, including Mt Morrison, surrounding it!

The lake was named after an incident on September 23, 1871, where a group of convicts escaped from prison in Carson City. A posse, from Benton,  encountered the convicts near the head of what is now Convict Creek. Posse member Robert Morrison, a Benton merchant , was killed in the encounter, and Mount Morrison was named after him. (wikipedia)

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Next up was Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth is mainly known for 2 things, a fabulous ski hill in the winter and amazing hiking and outdoor activities in the summer! Tourism is the #1 industry. We drove through the town and some residential areas. We saw some signs of the ski hill but there was a lot of traffic this day and parking was almost impossible! We did manage to find a restaurant with a few spaces and had a wonderful lunch before moving on up the road!

Next side trip was the June lake Loop, passing June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake. Mickie loved June Lake, she got to chase sticks and play on the beach!

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Grant Lake was equally as fantastic!

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The Grant Lake overlook offered some incredible views of the river valley leading to the lake.

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Our last destination on this day was Mono Lake. It was something on my bucket list for a while. I had seen many amazing pictures of this strange landscape and wanted to experience it for myself!

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We learned that Mono Lake and the Salton Sea have a lot in common. Neither has an outlet, which causes high levels of salt to accumulate. It also has a productive eco system and brine shrimp thrive in the water. This lake provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and blackflies.

However, “The city of Los Angeles diverted water from the Owens River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. In 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power extended the Los Angeles Aqueduct system farther upriver into the Mono Basin. So much water was diverted that evaporation soon exceeded inflow and the surface level of Mono Lake fell rapidly. By 1982 the lake was reduced to 37,688 acres (15,252 ha) 69 percent of its 1941 surface area. “[By 1990, the lake had dropped 45 vertical feet and had lost half its volume]” relative to the 1941 pre-diversion water level. As a result, alkaline sands and formerly submerged tufa towers became exposed, the water salinity doubled, and Negit Island became a peninsula, exposing the nests of California gulls to predators (such as coyotes), and forcing the gull colony to abandon this site. “(wikipedia)

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The California State Water Resources Control Board issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams on September 28, 1994. Since that time, the lake level has steadily risen. In 1941 the surface level was at 6,417 feet (1,956 m) above sea level. As of October 2013, Mono Lake was at 6,380.6 feet (1,945 m) above sea level. The lake level of 6,392 feet (1,948 m) above sea level is the goal, a goal made more difficult during years of drought.

Many of these Tufa’s remain out of the water at this time…

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…but there are a few areas where you find them emerging from the lake!

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Our final outing in the Bishop area was driving the back roads through the Owens Valley, it is such a gorgeous area and was just coming to life after the harsh winter! I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves!

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Our week had come to an end and it was time to continue on our journey home! I will miss this area for sure!

Until next time………

One thought on “Bishop to Mono Lake, & Owens Valley, California

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