Peculiar-shaped tufa spires ring the shimmering Mono Lake, but the biggest grove is on the southern rim, with a mile-long interpretive trail. The bizarre limestone shapes are formed when rich calcium underwater springs fuse with this lake water rich in carbonates. Visit at dusk (on wind-free days) for the most awesome scene – the surrounding mountain ranges are mirrored in the perfectly still lake surface. Ask about ranger-led tours and talks.
Note that climbing on the tufas destroys them and is prohibited, along with collecting pumice or obsidian. To get to the reserve, head south from Lee Vining on Hwy 395 for 6 miles, then east on Hwy 120 for 5 miles to the gravel road leading to a parking lot. Pay via the honesty box.