If you’ve ever wondered how to elope at Mono Lake, let me be your guide! Mono Lake is one of the oldest lakes on the entire continent of North America. Over 750,000 years, people! This saltwater lake is home to thousands of brine shrimp and millions of birds. The main feature of this area are the Tufa spires. These towering limestone structures are made up of calcite buildup and dot the shoreline. This is a rare ecosystem that is totally unique. It’s located east of the Sierra Mountains, in the elbow crook of California. It’s a short drive from the east portal of Tioga Pass in Yosemite. The nearby town of Lee Vining should be your home base. You can read more about the fascinating ecology and history of the area in the Mono Lake brochure.
Why you should Elope at Mono Lake
The completely unique scenery at Mono Lake gives you that other worldly feeling. This lake is close to California’s Sierra Mountains to the west. Big mountain views are not only visible from the lake, but access is close for hiking and adventuring. A nearby cinder cone crater is a bonus for volcanology enthusiasts. The birdwatching and stargazing opportunities are abundant for nature loving couples. You can do all sorts of boating and SUPing on the lake. Consider a visit to the volcanic islands by canoe here! You can swim in the salty water, and you will be especially buoyant because of the salinity. But you’ll definitely want to shower afterwards!
When to Elope at Mono
I spent a day and a half here and my husband had to virtually drag me away. I visited the lake shore at almost every time of day and loved them all. Dawn lights up the mountains to the west. Sunrise was tranquil, and I was alone on the shoreline for hours in the blue and gold light. This is also one of the few places that I loved shooting at mid-day. During the hottest hours, sunlight turns the water into a turquoise oasis. The white spires contrast with the bright colors of the alkaline plant life on the shore. Sunsets are incredibly vibrant as well, and after dark the stargazing here is insane. The area is also stunningly beautiful in the winter with a fresh layer of snow. There is no bad time to elope at Mono Lake!
How to Elope Legally and Ethically
Mono Lake is within both the California State Park and the Mono Lakes Basin National Scenic area, within Inyo National Forest. A special use permit may be required (depending on the number of guests!). There’s a $3 per person fee to access the Tufa area, but your National Park pass will cover you. Further, these lands are the home of the Kucadikadi / South Piute peoples. Consider making a donation to their tribe when you elope here. All Leave No Trace principles apply of course, and in addition, do not walk on the Tufa! I promise you won’t need to though – all my images are taken from spaces where it is ok to stand.
Is a Mono Lake Elopement right for you?
Mono Lake is the perfect elopement location for you if:
– Weird, wonderful, and unique landscapes make you grin
– You want a colorful and diverse area with a water/lake feature
– You like warm California climate without desert heat
– The paved path and boardwalk make this site Accessible
– You don’t mind bugs – they won’t land on you but there are a lot of them
Are you as excited as I am yet?? Get in touch and chat with me about all the possibilities that await you here!
If you’re not quite sure, check out my other location guides for more inspiration.