The 10 Best Things to Do in Lee Vining, United States

July 27, 2017 Nobuko Falco

Lee Vining (formerly, Leevining, Poverty Flat, and Lakeview) is a census-designated place in Mono County, California, United States. It is located 21 miles (34 km) south-southeast of Bridgeport, at an elevation of 6781 feet (2067 m). Lee Vining is located on the southwest shore of Mono Lake. The population was 222 as of the 2010 census, down from 250 reported as of 2000 by Mono County. At the previous census (1990) the town population was 398, and at the census before that (1980) it was 315.
Restaurants in Lee Vining

1. Tioga Road

Lee Vining, CA
Excellent
84%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 297 reviews

Tioga Road

This road, leading to Yosemite's high country, winds through one of the highest mountain passes in the state.

Reviewed By marros1960 - Ridgecrest, California

There was evidence of all of the snow that fell last year. Trees bent over (see pictures) and the roof at the entrance of Tioga resort was crushed.
Take your time as you drive this road (only 12 miles from Hwy 395 to the entrance of Yosemite), use common sense and you will have a great drive. There are many places to safely pull over to take a picture (or 20), park and go for a hike or have a picnic.

2. Mono Lake Committee

Corner of Highway 395 & Third Street, Lee Vining, CA 93541
Excellent
82%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 117 reviews

Mono Lake Committee

The Mono Lake Committee is a 16,000 member non-profit citizens group, dedicated to protection and restoration of the Mono Basin ecosystem and educating the next generation. The Committee’s Information Center & Bookstore provides: books, maps, educational exhibits about Mono Lake, Mono Lake gear, gifts and cards by local artisans, educational toys, and information about lodging, dining, and local services. Additionally, the award-winning HD film “The Mono Lake Story” is featured in the store’s Theater & Gallery as well as rotating art exhibits. The staff is knowledgeable about Mono Lake and the surrounding area and is happy to provide information about great activities to enjoy during your visit to the Mono Basin. The storefront patio is a great place to hydrate, relax, meet friends, take in the scenery, or watch the incredible sunsets. During the summer, Committee staff and volunteers provide guided interpretive walks in the Mono Basin and canoe tours on Mono Lake. Open all year!Fall/Winter/Spring Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.Summer Hours: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm.

Reviewed By grubs - lancashire

Mono Lake is a massive saltwater lake in the middle of nowhere. The committee work hard to keep it as nature intended including the fauna and wildlife. For years the committee has been fighting with officials who want to use the water in the lake to supply homes in the Los Angeles area. A compromise had been reached. You can learn about the history of Mono Lake and th ongoing battles. Very interesting.

3. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Highway 395, Lee Vining, CA 93541 +1 760-647-6331
Excellent
69%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 261 reviews

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Reviewed By sunshinelover978 - Wrexham, United Kingdom

Wonderful rock formations reflected in the still waters of the salt lake. A well laid out walk around the reserve with explanation of the geology and environment on interpretation boards.

4. Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center

Highway 395, North of Lee Vining, Lee Vining, CA +1 760-647-3044
Excellent
65%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 239 reviews

Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center

Reviewed By sp4301 - Medford, Oregon

This visitor center is super informative about Mono Lake and the surrounding area. They have a free film to watch, interactive displays, books, and a large gift shop. The friendly staff was super helpful.

Really great views of the lake from the visitor center. This makes a great starting point when visiting Mono Lake.

5. Lundy Lake

Lundy Lake Road, Lee Vining, CA
Excellent
64%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 43 reviews

Lundy Lake

Reviewed By dil345 - Georgetown, Texas

We went here looking for fall color based on recommendations. The color was okay but we were a little early. We did not do any hiking in the area as we were looking for photographic opportunities. It was a quite busy place on a sunny Saturday.

6. Mono Lake County Park

Lee Vining, CA 51365
Excellent
55%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 11 reviews

Mono Lake County Park

Reviewed By mini - Fremont, California

We had a nice picnic at Mono Lake County Park. It is a nice park with grassy areas. It is free to park in the parking lot.

There is a nice playground area. There is also a fair number of picnic tables.

It is next to the Mono Lake State Natural Reserve. One can take a trail there to see the various tufas, Mono Lake, as well as distant panoramic views of Mono Craters.

It is also a good area to watch for birds.

7. Mono Basin Historical Society

129 Mattley Ave, Lee Vining, CA 93541 +1 760-647-6461
Excellent
50%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6 reviews

Mono Basin Historical Society

Reviewed By Brian R - Northridge, CA

While wandering around in Lee Vining looking for a place to eat , we stumbled upon this museum with the Upside Down House. We went inside the Old School House Museum and talked to the staff. They were very friendly and helpful! They gave us all kinds of great places to visit in the area. Well worth the stop!

8. Ellery Lake Campground

Lee Vining, CA 93541
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 4 reviews

Ellery Lake Campground

Reviewed By Paul S - Costa Mesa, California

On our most recent family vacation we visited this location to do some afternoon fishing. This is a terrific spot to camp, hike, fish, or get some photos. Ellery Lake sits at the top of Tioga Pass road as you're heading west up towards Yosemite from Lee Vining. As you crest the pass, a bit of 9,100 feet, Ellery will be on the south side of Highway 120 nested in the saddle between Tioga Peak on the north and Mt Dana to the south.

If you're planning on using the campground, the grounds are on the west side of the lake. There are 20 or so spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations. I think the fee was $21 per night as the of the date of this review. It's a smaller campground but it does have standard vault toilets and potable water.

If you'd like to do some fishing and hiking, there's a pull-out on the south side of Highway 120 right up against the lake and just east of the campgrounds. It'll handle about five or six cars. From there, you can hike down to the lake and do some fishing or walk around the lake and get some awesome photos of the area.

As you can see, access to this location is easy as it's right off of 120. Don't rush by this location. Highway 120 is one of those drives where the journey is the destination. Take you time and drop by here. Stretch your legs and get some photos of some of the most beautiful areas on earth.

For you fishermen, the lake is planted regularly by the CA DFG.

For you geocachers, there are a whole bunch of caches along Highway 120 between Lee Vining and the east entrance to Yosemite and several along Ellery Lake.

Definitely take the time to stop here!

9. Beaver's Sporting Goods

51328 Highway 395, Lee Vining, CA +1 760-647-6406
Excellent
51%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
12%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 8 reviews

Beaver's Sporting Goods

Reviewed By Paul S - Costa Mesa, California

We did an impromptu vacation to Lee Vining, August 6 through 8, 2014 and figured that we'd do some fishing while we were up there along with the requisite sight-seeing. Naturally, on such short notice, we left only partially prepared to do the fishing part but with the help of the staff at Beaver's Sporting Goods (which happened to be across the street from our hotel), we were able to purchase the necessary bait and odds and ends that I had forgotten.

The store has a good selection of lures, bait and equipment (both fishing and general outdoor gear) and the staff was really helpful and friendly. So, if you find yourself in the Eastern Sierra's near Lee Vining and have forgotten some fishing equipment or need some camping equipment, drop by ... they'll have it!

I would definitely recommend this store for any last minute sporting good purchases.

10. Tioga Pass

Yosemite National Park, CA +1 209-372-0200
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 993 reviews

Tioga Pass

Dramatic drive starting at elevation 6,100 feet outside of Yosemite Valley and finishing 47 miles later atop Tioga Pass.

Reviewed By Sunseekergirl77 - Moorhead, Minnesota

We just barely got to take the Tioga Pass in mid October before an impending snow storm. The pass is beautiful! Lots of awesome scenery! Be prepared for a lot of height - around 11,500ft. Make sure you are ready to be in the car with no services for a while. This was our favorite part of Yosemite and the bonus is there were no crowds there!

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