A majestic landscape reflecting a history of extremes.

Inyo-Mono Craters

Easily accessible by graded dirt road, are the Inyo Craters. A short trail, from the parking lot, leads up to the craters and to the lakes. The craters serve as an example of, what was possibly, the last volcanic activity in the area. A mild form of volcanism is indicated here and it is thought that they were created by gases bursting through weak spots in the earth's crust, hurling outwards whatever was above, thus creating the two main, funnel-shaped craters. This is thought to have occurred relatively recently in about 1400 ad. Craters are common in this area but the green-colored lakes in each of these craters are very rare.

The Mono Craters are an unusual chain of obsidian domes, approximately 2400 feet above the valley floor. They actually approach the height of the famed volcanoes, Stromboli and Vesuvius!

Unlike the Hawaiian lava flows, a very thick form of lava built the Mono Craters. Some rose as gigantic columns of obsidian, building dome-shaped mountains (the three center domes). Others flowed over forming the domes to the north and south. The pumice on the east side of the craters measures 20 feet thick and stretches east as far as the Nevada border. On the western side, the pumice is only 5 feet thick. The craters were created over thousands of years, mostly in recent history following the last Ice Age (less than 10,500 years ago).

Hot springs and steam vents are still present, making a future eruption possible. The craters can be seen from US 395 between the northern June Lake turnoff and Mono Lake. They may also be viewed from Hwy. 120 east.

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