Worth the Stop: Mono Basin National Scenic Area

Tucked into the desert on the eastern side of the Sierra, Mono Lakes is a true hidden gem that is worth the stop for any traveller passing through.

My friends and I came across the area on a chilly September morning on our way into Yosemite National Park. We had grown tired of driving across the Nevada desert the previous day and were dismayed to find out that Tioga pass was snowed out. Initially bummed to be stuck in the desert for another few hours we headed to Panum crater at the recommendation of a local parks employee. We were not disappointed.

View from the edge of the crater looking towards the Sierras

The whole region is partially a result of volcanism. The Panum crater specifically is only about 600-700 years old. We parked and made our way across the scrub brush up into the crater. The crater is a haven for those that want a challenge. Hours passed as we scrambled up the walls and down through crevices. Obsidian and pumice cut up our hands and legs but the views were worth it. Before we knew it, it was time to recheck the pass. I grabbed a handful of stones for my wife’s class back home and headed back to the car with the guys. Sometimes the unintended stops end up being the coolest memories.

Stay tuned for our new album

Things to know

  • There is free camping anywhere above the ancient shoreline of the lake.
  • Whoah Nellie Dellie at the Mobil gas station apparently has amazing food. We wished we had known that earlier.

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