Mono Lake & Panum Crater

If the names of these places sound familiar to some of my long-time followers, it’s because I was there in the spring of 2016.

I visited Panum Crater in the morning before it got too hot, with hopes of getting some sunset shots of the Tufas at Mono Lake later in the day. Panum Crater will fascinate some of you and bore others to death, but you can always skip the information and pictures of rocks and move onto the more scenic images if you wish. Personally, I find that learning about the geology of a place makes for far more interesting travels, and trying to get a sense of geologic time and the forces that created our mountains, canyons, plains, rivers, plateaus, grasslands, valleys and so on, is truly humbling. Just knowing that an earthquake could happen at any time in this area, is humbling in itself.

Panum Crater is a volcanic cone that is part of the Mono-Inyo Craters, a chain of recent volcanic cones south of Mono Lake and east of the Sierra Nevada Mountain. Panum Crater is between 600 and 700 years old, and it exhibits all of the characteristics of the textbook rhyolitic lava dome. To learn more click here!


After hiking up Panum Crater, I went to visit south Mono Lake. The lake was almost like glass, and I was stunned by the reflections of the Tufas on the water.

Mono Lake (MOH-noh) is a large, shallow saline soda lake which formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.

When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the freshwater streams flowing into the lake, it lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds. The Mono Lake Committee formed in response and won a legal battle that forced Los Angeles to partially replenish the lake level. To learn more about Mono Lake click here!!

I hope you enjoy the images below. I took some shots of people, so that you can get a better idea of the size of the Tufas.

I found a place to camp on BLM lands near Panum Crater just before it went dark. In the morning there was a stunning sunrise on the mountains to the west and noticed two paw prints on the door of my van, just below my window. Something big came and peered in my van during the previous night, and I never heard a thing. I assume it was a bear, and it happened while I was camped up Hwy 108 because it was muddy in that parking lot.

In the next installment of my winter travels of 2017/2018, I find some hot springs…yes!

I hope you are enjoying my travels and images, see you next time.

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature

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