Rt. 395 May 2018 Trip – Mono Lake and Hot Creek

After Convict Lake we did a little exploring of the area around Mammoth Lakes, got supplies and gas in town, and then found a NFS campground called Glass Creek.   It had a ton of camp sites, nice clean pit toilet bathrooms but no water or garbage dump.  And it was free.  I found it on Campendium.com , a must have link for traveling in a motorhome.  The campground was practically empty with only a handful or RVs spread over a huge area.  Nice little creek to explore and hills to climb.  This campground is halfway between June Lake to the north and Mammoth lakes to the south.

We just stayed here for one night then went back down south a short way to see Hot Creek, which I had just seen a video describing it on my phone.  It is a geologic site that has boiling water bubbling up from the creek bed, fumaroles (steam vents) and periodic geyser eruptions caused by a chamber of hot magma which lies about three miles below the surface of the earth.  This magma chamber is part of the Long Valley Caldera eruption 760,000 years ago.

The pale blue pools you see in my photos below are the hot water coming up and apparently have caused the death of over 25 people over the years.  It cools down a bit on its journey to the surface but the temperature of the water begins at around 430 degrees F a couple miles below the surface.  Several movies were filmed in this Hot Creek Gorge including True Grit and North to Alaska both with John Wayne, and Nevada Smith with Steve McQueen.  The fishing along Hot Creek, before it gets hot, is catch and release only with barbless hooks.

Next we went to Mono Lake, a large, shallow saline soda lake just north of June lake loop.  It is believed to have formed 760,000 years ago with the Long Valley eruption.  But sediments located below the ash layer indicate it could have been a part of the massive older lake Lahontan, that covered a large part of Nevada and Utah.

We visited the South Tufa area on Mono Lake.  Tufa is a variety of limestone formed when carbonate minerals precipitate out of ambient temperature water.  The formations against the lake, and old volcanic domes and the Sierra Mtns in the background make for a dramatic setting.

Next we went to see the Obsidian Dome, an ancient volcanic site, but ended up on a rough, sandy, steep road that we had to back all the way down, Kate walking behind and guiding me around hairpin turns.   Rather stressful but we made it just fine.

Next blog is our visit to Virginia Lakes.

Author: Geoff

Quick rundown: Grew up in Lombard, Illinois, went to Arizona State University, worked as a CPA with Arthur Andersen & Co, then Laventhal and Horwath, then Rolling Stones, then Heron International, then Goodby Berlin and Silverstein in San Francisco. Moved to the foothills in 1990 and traded futures and designed websites. Married to Kate Stewart, now living in Colfax, CA. We have six grandchildren. I enjoy camping in our RV, hiking, kayaking, fishing, droning and cross country skiing Also conga drumming, photography and dogs.