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.
nomy of Lee Vining relies largely on tourism, since it is the closest town to the east entrance of Yosemite National Park, and is near other tourist destinations such as Mono Lake, the ghost town of Bodie, popular trout fishing destinations, and June Mountain and Mammoth Mountain ski areas and the June Lake recreational area. Tourism is mostly confined to the summer months, because State Route 120 through Yosemite is closed otherwise because of heavy snowfall, although year-round tourism has been increasing in recent years. Lee Vining has a year-round Information Center for visitors.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 5.2 square miles (13.5 km²), 99.95% of it land, and 0.05% of it water.
This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F (22.0 °C). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lee Vining has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated “Csb” on climate maps.
The town was named after Leroy Vining, who founded the town in 1852 as a mining camp. His life came to an untimely end when he accidentally shot himself at the nearby town of Aurora, Nevada. In 1926, the town was laid out by Chris Mattly and named “Lakeview”, but when a post office was sought in 1928, it was learned that another town, Lakeview, California already had the name. The unique name of Lee Vining was chosen in 1953. The place was also called Poverty Flat for its unfavorable conditions for agriculture.
The town is the site of the Upside-Down House, a distinctive local landmark built by silent film actress Nellie Bly O’Bryan.
Lee Vining is situated near the foot of Lee Vining Canyon. State Route 120 runs from town, through the canyon, up to Tioga Pass. Lee Vining Canyon is one of only two ice climbing venues in California. U.S. Route 395 also runs through the town, connecting to Los Angeles 390 miles (630 km) to the South, and Reno, Nevada 135 miles (217 km) to the North.
The Lee Vining Airport lies near the town. The ZIP Code is 93541. The community is inside area codes 442 and 760.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Lee Vining had a population of 222. The population density was 42.5 people per square mile (16.4/km²). The racial makeup of Lee Vining was 126 (56.8%) White, 0 (0.0%) African American, 25 (11.3%) Native American, 0 (0.0%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 64 (28.8%) from other races, and 7 (3.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 96 persons (43.2%).
The Census reported that 213 people (95.9% of the population) lived in households, 9 (4.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.
There were 85 households, out of which 31 (36.5%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 44 (51.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4 (4.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 5 (5.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 5 (5.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 1 (1.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 28 households (32.9%) were made up of individuals and 6 (7.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51. There were 53 families (62.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.25.
The population was spread out with 56 people (25.2%) under the age of 18, 26 people (11.7%) aged 18 to 24, 71 people (32.0%) aged 25 to 44, 52 people (23.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 17 people (7.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.4 years. For every 100 females there were 107.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.4 males.
There were 112 housing units at an average density of 21.5 per square mile (8.3/km²), of which 43 (50.6%) were owner-occupied, and 42 (49.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 10.6%. 108 people (48.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 105 people (47.3%) lived in rental housing units.