Two Very Different Lakes of California

California geography is diverse. It is full of mountains, deserts, lakes, ocean, rivers, lush green towns and try middle-of-nowhere towns. If you are resourceful enough, you can even ski and swim on the same day. OK, that would be a stretch effort in either direction, but it is still possible to achieve.

As part of our ‘legendaryCalifornia Road Trip of 2014, we have passed many lakes. Yet this post is about two very different lakes in the state: Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe.

Mono Lake is more of a visual, scientific, geological attraction than a holiday spot. It is right at the eastern edge of the Yosemite National Park. It is a salty, shallow body of water, that was formed roughly 760,000 years ago. It does not look like a place suitable for swimming at all.


According to its Wikipedia entry, Mono Lake has “an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and black flies (that also feed on the shrimp).” Dissolved salts also form some interesting geological formations on the surface.



On the other hand, Lake Tahoe, is a bliss for swimming and water sports. It’s located partly in Nevada and partly in California. As it lies on the Sierra Nevada mountain range, its surface altitude is as high as 6225 ft (1897 m). It is a pretty large and very deep (2nd deepest in US) lake so the volume of water ranks 6th in the whole US. The green scenery that surrounds the lake is a perfect match for the blue of the lake. The Emerald Bay (below) is one of the most beautiful natural spots I have ever seen.


The waters of the Lake Tahoe are so pristine and soft, I might have drank some while swimming. But, I am a professional, self-proclaimed swimmer/drinker so do not try this on your own without the permit of your dietitian :)


There are several beaches around the lake where you can enjoy the beauty of this place. If you are not a beach person, that’s fine too. Around the lake, there are many nice towns or holiday resorts where you can rent a boat or canoe.



The region around the Lake Tahoe is apparently popular for winter sports too. I honestly did not know that you could ski in California until someone at our motel told us. I do not if we are ever going to live in US, let alone in California. But Lake Tahoe definitely has its spot in my top places to revisit along with the rest of the California. :)