All images we created by Jonathan PJ Smith of The Environment Makers

The eastern shore of Mono Lake is probably one of the least visited parts of this incredible body of water. To get there requires a four-wheel drive and a love of being “out there”. However, the rewards are plentiful.

As the sun rises, it first touches the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, then slowly makes its way down their flanks toward Mono Lake. When the light begins to brush the faces of the large tufas, the effect can only be described as magical – like being immersed in a fairy tale. It is Nature at its very best!

Sunrise hitting Sierra Nevada peaks with an east side tufa for perspective.
Sunrise hitting Sierra Nevada peaks with an east side tufa for perspective.
Twin tufas on the eastern side of Mono Lake
The east side of Mono Lake is the epitome of beauty and the height of inspiration.
Sunrise on an elaborate east side tufa with marsh grasses in the foreground.
Morning sunlight hitting the east face of the Sierra Nevada with Mono Lake tufa and rounds of marsh grass in the foreground
Early morning light flooding the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada as seen from the east side of Mono Lake.
Reflections of sunrise on a large east coast tufa.
Long shadows right after sunrise on the eastern side of Mono Lake.

Sand Tufas on the East Side

The landscape around Mono Lake can at times be almost alien but perhaps the strangest natural formations to be found there are the sand tufas. Their bizarre, organic, otherworldly shapes make them look like they belong on another planet.

Otherworldly sand tufas are found close to the lake shore toward the eastern side of Mono Lake.
Many of the east side, Mono Lake sand tufas look like the remnants of ancient, alien civilizations.

Separating the lake from the arid desert surrounding the eastern part of Mono Lake is a lush marshland, alive with insects and birds. Amidst this sea of unexpected green, enormous land-bound tufas, stand out like islands.

Marshland, with islands of tufa, separates the eastern Mono Lake coastline from the surrounding desert.
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