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Old 05-13-2014, 12:56 PM   #1
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Bishop, Ca/Mono Lake

Bishop, Ca area and Mono Lake, has anyone been up that way? Heard there was dispersed camping around Mono lake, are any areas better than others?
We are going up for 6 days around Memorial day weekend. We plan to stop for the night at Mono lake and spend 2-3 hours in the morning exploring and going to the information center. Then we’ll head over to Bishop for the Mule Days festival. We have a 4 day horse packing trip set up to explore the back county and the wild mustangs. Then we’ll have one extra day to explore Mono Lake, we have kayaks so some time on the water might be nice.
Are trip does not have a lot of extra time so if there are must-sees please share any info.
Plus, looking at how to get there Tioga Pass seams okay, slow but okay. Has any driven this way and any issues?
Thanks all
John
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:06 PM   #2
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I have spent many pleasant days up there.

The dispersed camping in the area is in the pine flats, with no services except for some very dispersed pit toilets and spigots. It's mostly used by hunters, and is far from any attractions.

For Mono Lake, I'd recommend Mono Village CG, actually overlooking the lake (some spots). It's not terribly expensive, and is an easy walk into the little town of Lee Vining.

You might also try to squeeze in a day to visit Bodie, about a 50-mile drive from Lee Vining. It's a very large "arrested decay" ghost town, and is very interesting. I've gone there probably ten times, and see something new and intriguing every trip.

There are a lot of CG's to chose from in and around Bishop, but most folks recommend Brown's. We usually dry camp at Lake Diaz, a few miles south of Bishop on 395, and that would also be your best bet for kayaking.

Enjoy!

Fred
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:42 PM   #3
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Thanks for the campground info
The geology at Mono lake would be our only reason for kayaking there.
I will definitely look into Bodie, sounds interesting. Maybe I can push the wife into an extra day.
We always do at least one camping trip a year to find unique history, geology, ecology……. I always get a bigger budget when I can convince the wife it’s a “educational” trip “for the kids.”
Thanks again
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:52 PM   #4
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Sadly,I don't think they'll let you kayak there, anymore. Too much damage and vandalism to the tufa and other delicate geology there.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:31 PM   #5
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Thanks, I'll look into not being able to use kayaks, no need to bring them if I cant use them.
John
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Old 05-19-2014, 01:31 AM   #6
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Mono Lake is a preserve area so no touching of water is allowed. I have heard that there was once a kayak tour put on by a promoter but not sure if it is still available. You're so close to many other lakes there so kayaking should be no problem but be cautious of the afternoon winds that can make it hazardous. We once "surfed" white caps at Convict Lake back to the launch ramp in our kayak.

We're headed up to Mammoth for a week of fishing and taking our new canoe. We sold our tin boat and kayak. We love our canoe because it keeps us drier and easier to take with us. We will be "roughing" it though in a rented condo.
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:17 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the info.
What a great trip; yep we’ll have to go back so much more to do up there than we had time for.
I will get some pics up, maybe this weekend, but a quick overview.
Tioga was closed, do to snow, the morning we were going. It did reopen by the time we got to the area. Got gas and asked Gas Station Gall(local) and she said Sonora Grade would be better and shorter with a trailer and I asked about the grade and she said we would be fine. My truck has never towed so slow first grade sign we saw said “some 28% grade”(I am sure that’s what it said; I was hoping this would be down hill) second sign said “trucks over 26 feet are not recommended” . We made it, just a little slower than I expected, nice that there was no traffic. I will not be going over this pass again. I was beautiful and there were multiple campgrounds on both sides of the main grade that would be spectacular to stay at.
Mono lake was great, the rangers at the visitors center were very knowledgeable and nice(just like everywhere). They offered us FREE life jackets or would have traded old lifejackets for new ones. I asked about wind and the direction it would come from if it was going to get bad. He took me down a hallway and showed me a picture of 8 foot waves breaking over the tufa. We did a quick hike and headed to the launch area. We were told that the black island was off limits do to breeding birds and to stay 200ft away from osprey nest. We were very lucky that there was no wind, the water was flatter than a mirror(I’ll post pics). Tufa(the limestone and the sand tufa), brine shrimp, osprey, springs, views and even the flies were amazing.
Mule Days was fun. Kids and wife got pics hugging and sitting on a zebra. Really great people in Bishop and what a beautiful area surrounded by snow filled mountains. We had 72-82deg days and 42-56deg nights, the whole trip, so pleasant. Even better, we had almost no mosquitoes but I did have one tick crawl on my pants and a friend did get a tick on her arm. Ticks were both in the back country and are part of nature.
Wild Mustang trip was perfect, 4 days 3 nights of high desert exploration. Our guide found us the mustang every day. My kids loved it, this was probably a trip of a life time, I sure hope they would be able to do more trips like this but….. The Mustang had lots of interaction with each other: bachelors fighting the studs for mares, foals playing together, dust baths, feeding and watering, stomping in the meadow to pull water to the surface, nuzzling….. Not much other life up there, a few cotton tails a jack rabbit, we did see cougar tracks and deer tracks but never saw them. Wild flowers were sparse but very beautiful when we found them. Birds and lizards were fairly abundant.
Ended up at Lake Lundy for a day on the way home, what a beautiful area. Saw beaver sign like the lodge, dams, lots of aspen stumps that had been gnawed down, lots of water channels dug out we even heard a loud tail slap but never saw a beaver. Camped in the aspen on a stream so peaceful and beautiful(yes “beautiful” again, sorry).Did a short hike looking for those elusive Pika(ranger said we might see them), these critters must be related to the Snipe. We have looked from South Dakota to the Cascades; we’ve seen pictures and talked with people who say they’ve seen them but not us.
Went home across Tioga Pass, through Yosemite, this was a much easier pass. And yep again very beautiful with iced over lakes breaking up, lots of deer and the amazing views.
Oh ya, a short stop at the fish hatchery, kid always enjoy them.
Now the work begins again cleaning, restocking, stowing gear and few maintenance items.
Will post a few pics soon-ish
John
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Old 05-31-2014, 02:25 PM   #8
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A few pics

what a beautiful area, we'll be backClick image for larger version

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Old 05-31-2014, 02:32 PM   #9
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Few more Pics

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Go Enjoy
John
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