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Exploring the Desert in Mono County

I could spend a month in Mono County and still not see everything I want to see. We sure made the most of the couple of days we had there.

By: Benjamin Canevari + Save to a List

I'm a little late in writing this post. A month and a half actually...We went out to the Eastern Sierras for my 25th birthday and I've pretty much been on the move ever since we got back.

Nicolette, Jack, Tim and I left town at like 5am Thursday morning. The drive was pretty easy. Especially compared to my last trip out back in February. There was still tons of snow everywhere but it wasn't covering the roads this time around, which was nice. We made a stop or two for gas and bathroom breaks. Once we got into Lee Vining we decided to stop for coffee and some lunch.  After stretching our legs, fueling up on caffeine, and stuffing our faces with delicious burgers, we hit the road again.

Stopping in at Mammoth Lakes for gas, we checked in at the visitors center to see if we could dig up some more info on the BLM land in the area. There is a ton of it and it's so great for us. No reservations, Jack can be a dog and run free, and you just pick a spot that looks good and make camp. Usually don't have a ton of people around and you can really enjoy the scenery around you.

We ended up checking out the area off Benton Crossing Road. Lots of hot springs to check out, and we even made it out to the Hot Creek geological site as well! Really really cool area. Perfect for cruising along the dirt trails and letting Jack run ahead of the cars leading the way.

All of the hot springs that we went to were overcrowded and had people camping right around them. While there are no actual rules saying you can't do this, it's very disrespectful to others and especially the locals that live in the area. Nobody wants to be in the middle of somebody else's camp surrounded by their stuff, not to mention strangers. Camp elsewhere and come visit the springs like everybody else. I've witnessed a few locals leave angry notes and even threaten to trash campsites and steal stuff because people set up camp around a hot spring making it extremely uncomfortable to be at.

The Hot Creek Geological site was pretty amazing as well. Burning hot geysers dumping water into the creek made it so that the creek itself is too hot to touch. Add to that the seismic activity from the volcanoes making the ground unstable and always changing. We had to keep Jack on the leash and didn't want to risk getting around the fence for a closer look. It's there for a reason.

As the sun started to set, I had Tim fly around this corner a few times throwing up a huge cloud of dust to glow in the sunlight. The mountains in the back make it even better. Couldn't be happier with this shot!

Once we were done playing in the golden light, we decided to set up camp before it got too dark. We found the most perfect plateau to camp on. Being up high let us see everything around us for miles. Probably the best camp spot I've stayed at in a long time!

We tried and tried and tried to get the fire going. But the wind just wouldn't let it happen. Being at high altitude also doesn't help either. So we ended up making do without.

The next morning we broke camp early and made our way out to the Mono Hills. This turned out to be a fantastic idea as we didn't see another soul all day long.

These red rocks were so cool. It was a blast parking the cars and climbing around all the rock formations.

Tim found the coolest spot of the trip I think...

It was a real pain getting up there on our own, not to mention getting Jack up there. We spent probably an hour helping him climb up the rocks making sure he didn't hurt himself. In the end we all made it up and it was well worth it!

I wish we had more time to spend in Mono. There is so much to see. We didn't even scratch the surface. Now that more of the snow has melted I want to head up and do some backpacking in the mountains. Alpine lakes are my favorite thing in the world and I can't wait to see what Mono county has to offer in that area!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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