Mono Lake, CA, and Dyer, NV
September 7, 2017
Mono Lake, CA
After driving down the Kingsbury Grade from Tahoe, we headed south and east on US-395 toward Lee Vining, CA, which is a dot on the map next to Mono Lake. We had no idea, but we learned that Mono Lake is a fascinating place. The lake is a significant bird habitat, a source of water for Los Angeles, and full of fascinating geological structures called "tufa towers." The towers have become more exposed because the lake has gotten lower due to the drought and water use by Los Angeles, but they are working to raise the level of the lake again. It will probably never hit historical levels again, but higher water levels are better for migratory waterfowl. For more details on the tufa, which are really calcium deposits that precipitated out of geothermal springs in the lake, visit monolake.org. Pictures? We got those, below.
Route 206 - Lee Vining to Benton Hot Springs
From Mono Lake we crossed from Lee Vining, CA, to Benton Hot Springs, CA via highway 120. Timing was perfect, as this road was slated to close for the winter within a few days of our crossing. From Benton we drove on through the desert, via Routes 6 and 264, to Dyer, NV. Route 120 is spectacular, and we highly recommend you use it whenever it is open for traffic.
New night, new campground. We made our way to the middle of the Nevada desert, in Dyer, NV. On a hay farm. Yep, they farm hay in the desert. Esmeralda RV Park, in Dyer Nevada, was literally an oasis in the desert. Cottonwood trees, owls and delightful camping in the dead center of nowhere.
Esmeralda Market, RV Park and Cabins is a lovely place in a vast desert wilderness. Another quick overnight stop for us, as we had to meet friends in Vegas to start a camping trip with them. This campground had cottonwood trees all over, providing plentiful shade. At night, we heard several owls in the surrounding trees, which the owners have irrigated and lovingly grown over the years. It was a great place to camp for the night.
Fortunately, there's one cell tower in the village and it's right across the street, so we had a booming AT&T LTE signal all to ourselves. Bandwidth was incredible…Netflix night! Verizon must have some kind of deal with the tower as well, because our VZW phones had a good "Extended 3G" signal, though no LTE. Good for phone calls, but slow for data. The owners of this combined market / gas station / RV Park / Cabin rental are very friendly and helpful, and the place is clean. The restrooms and showers were in fine shape as well. There were many folks camped there with their cute little dune buggies for driving around the desert. (The local volunteer fire-fighter organization was getting ready for a dune-buggy / ATV rally that was to start the next day, so many campers were pulling toy-haulers or using truck campers with a vehicle on a trailer behind them.)
We learned that the owner is also a hay farmer. Yep, they grow hay. In the middle of the Nevada desert, they were farming hay. The irrigation devices were gigantic rigs, at least ten feet tall, with huge wheels and pipes connecting them together at a pivot point in the center of the field. If you've never seen one in person before, this is a great place to do that. You can see them in the field right behind the campground