CaliforniaFallColor.com was judged to be the Best Outdoor Medium in California for 2015 by the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC).
Journalist members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association judged the statewide competition for OWAC and credited CaliforniaFallColor for its comprehensive coverage of autumn across California, solid writing and reporting and the many spectacular images contributed by photographers from throughout the state.
Special thanks are expressed to our readers, sponsors and contributors who all share in this honor.
California Christmas Holly, Toyon (12/17/14) John Poimiroo
With successive storms having lashed the state over the past two weeks, California Holly (toyon) is now providing seasonal color across a mostly bare landscape. This Sunday, Dec. 21, is the Winter Solstice and fall color has effectively disappeared throughout most of California.
A few bright spots exist in Southern California, though it’s mostly gone and not distinctive. So, until next autumn, CaliforniaFallColor.com is declaring the party over. See you next year.
Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/9/14) Frank McDonough
LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough
Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough
Liquidambar, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough
While stormy weather has washed away what little color remained in Northern California, until today the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botantic Garden was one of the last holdouts for fall color.
Frank McDonough reports that Ginkgo biloba and Liquidambar were still peaking at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, yesterday, though the spent leaves below a Ginkgo (seen above) illustrate how fragile the remaining color is.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Arcadia (Peak – 75 – 100%) – Ginkgo biloba and Liquidambar are providing most of the remaining color at the LA County Arboretum, but high winds lashing California are likely to strip what’s left. About 25% of trees there have not yet peaked. GO NOW!
Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster
Inspired by the Joshua Tree NP post, Max Forster went looking for cottonwood in Death Valley National Park this past weekend and found gold.
He writes, “There are some beautiful groves up Cottonwood Canyon. To reach the trees requires approximately 20 miles of driving on a high clearance 4×4 road from Stovepipe Wells. Once the road ends, the trees begin.
“You can continue up the canyon on foot for another four miles, encountering some impressive old growth cottonwood with each perennial spring. I would say they were mostly right at peak on Sunday (11/30). ”
Having visited to the Colorado Plateau for fall foliage in the past, Max continues he didn’t know why he hadn’t sought out SoCal desert trees for the same color, but now that he’s living in Southern California, he plans to incorporate trips to the desert for fall color once the Sierra is past peak.
Bravo, Max! You score another first as the first color spotter to report from Death Valley.
Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster
On Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to all who contributed photos and reports and look back at highlights of autumn 2014 through this video prepared by Ron Tyler.
In 2014, over 75 individuals contributed reports and photographs. They include: LA Leaf Peeper, Alicia Vennos, Jon Klusmire, Robin Roberts, Katrina Lounsberry, Laura Thompson, Candace Gregory, Kimberly Kofala, Susan Taylor, Steve Wolfe, Alena Nichols, Casey Schreiner, Jared Smith, Valerie Nellor, Kevin Lennox, Susan Morning, Frank McDonough, Mike Nellor, Jeff Titcomb, Suzanne Jensen, Scott Turner, Alena Barnhart, Nicholas Barnhart, Kathy Thieu, Walter Gabler, Sharon Chew, Janek U, Yin You, Chuck Viebrock, Lee Foster, Elizabeth Erdelyi, Keith Lake, Joel Rathje, Stan Bales, Brittany Pozek, Barbara Pozek, Amanda Secrest, Greg Newbry, Darryl Chew, Ashley Mayer, Sharon Tan, Michelle Fox, Tim Colvin, Arya Degenhardt, Lara Kaylor, Bruce Williams, Jamie Lau, Suzi Brakken, Kevin Mallory, Karen Kleven, Kelly Lam, Ashley Hollgarth, Susan Holt, Crys Black, Jonathan Jahr, Jan Davies, Lorissa Soriano, Mariusz Jeglinski, Kevin Cooper, Lisa May, Gabriel Leete, Patty Brissenden, Joe Pollini, John Brissenden, Eric Trumbauer, Cory Poole, Larry Trettin, Jack Kirchert, Anson Davalos, Sandy Steinman, Nicole Coburn, Barbara Matthews, Ben Carlson, Jill Dinsmore, Laurie Baker, Jonathan Patterson, Marc Hoshovsky, Terry Willard, Julie Nelson, Dan Riley, Ron McNally, Max Forster and Ron Tyler.
Should we have overlooked your contributions, please know it wasn’t intentional; we apologize for having overlooked you and are indebted to every color spotter for their efforts, talents, attentiveness and generosity in reporting what they witnessed.
Special thanks are extended to Inyo County Tourism, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color. Thanks are also expressed to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.
This list of thank yous is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations, pointed out particularly beautiful color, driven the car and pulled it over to the shoulder at my whim so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location.
Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed and contributed to this site, and our Facebook and Twitter pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.
So, until next autumn, keep looking for California’s Fall Color.
California (Peak 75-100%) – In our hearts, California is always peaking. GO NOW!
Nick and Alena Barnhart’s report from Santa Catalina Island inspired us to recommend the Garden to Sky trail on Catalina Island for our Fall Color Hike of the Week.
Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden (11/24/14) Alena Barnhart
Avalon Bay (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
Catalina Color (11/24/14) Alena Barnhart
West Side Catalina Island (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
This is an ideal trail for anyone with “only a little bit of time to explore the trails of Catalina,” states the Catalina Island Conservancy.
The Garden to Sky Hike starts at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden (admission required to the garden). From there, the Memorial Road “leads to the Divide Road, the first leg of the hike. It travels along a comfortable incline that leads to a spectacular views on both sides of the Island.”
Before beginning the hike, all hikers must obtain a hiking permit from the Conservancy Explore store in Avalon, at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, Nature Center at Avalon Canyon, Airport in the Sky, Two Harbor Enterprises or online at the Catalina Island Conservancy website (see link below).
Hiking permits are required by the Catalina Island Conservancy for each hike into Catalina’s wildlands. They help locate hikers in the event of an emergency.
CLICK HERE to obtain a permit and for more information on Catalina Island hiking trails.
Avalon, Santa Catalina Island (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
West Side, Santa Catalina Island (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
West Side, Santa Catalina Island (11/24/14) Ron McNally
Santa Catalina Island Fox (11/24/14) Alena Barnhart
Santa Catalina Island, made famous by The Four Preps in their song “26 miles,” is our newest fall color spot.
Color spotters Nick and Alena Barnhart spent this week on the “Island of romance,” reporting they saw areas of color all over the island. Nick says the color is at the end of peak with most of the remaining color to be seen in a variety of trees and shrubs, including palm trees, cottonwood, eucalyptus and various others he couldn’t identify.
Most of the color is found in the island’s “Wild Side” or interior, up canyons and often down to the beach. He suggested it’s possible to “spend days exploring different canyons and areas for fall color.” The palms were endlessly fascinating to him with some carrying orange fronds. And, of course, the island is populated with bison, deer, bald eagles and Santa Catalina Island Fox.
Local color spotter, Ron McNally, suggests November and December to be the best months at Santa Catalina for sunrises and sunsets, another colorful aspect of autumn.
Santa Catalina Island (Peak – 75-100%) – Palms, eucalyptus and cottonwood are at the end of peak, but still lovely. The combination of blue-green seas, fall color and gorgeous sunsets makes Santa Catalina one of California’s most romantic fall color destinations. GO NOW!
Palm, Santa Catalina Island (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
Santa Catalina Island (11/24/14) Nicholas Barnhart
Remembering Lake Sabrina at Peak (10/1/14) Jared Smith
June Lake (9/28/14) Nicholas Barnhart
North Lake Road (10/1/14) Jared Smith
Lundy Canyon (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos
Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo
Fremont Cottonwood (10/5/14) Nick Barnhart
Conway Summit (10/11/14) Susan Holt
Aspendell (10/16/14) Steve Wolfe.
40th Ave., Sacramento (10/25/14) John Poimiroo
The Redwood Highway (10/26/14) Walter Gabler
Methodist Church, Quincy (10/28/14) Mike Nellor
Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mt Shasta (11/4/14) Cory Poole
Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky
Bigleaf maple (11/11/14) Alena Barnhart
Valyermo (11/16/14) Frank McDonough
Lake Silverwood (11/16/14) Nicholas Barnhart
Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite NP (11/23/14) Susan Taylor
Autumn 2014 didn’t live up to its predictions.
Back in August, when leaves first began to turn, some forecast that California’s third year of drought would diminish the show of fall color.
Instead, as Jared Smith’s photograph of Lake Sabrina shows, it was spectacular.
Here’s how autumn shaped up:
CaliforniaFallColor.com’s first “fall color report” was published on August 13, a week later than in 2013.
Our first GO NOW! alert was reported on September 17, also a week later.
Our first Peak was reported on Sept. 23, five days later than last year. That first peak coincided with the first day of autumn (Autumnal Equinox).
So, 2014 was not the earliest of shows, but it defied early critics and became remarkable for its long-lasting and breathtaking color. If the third year of record drought in California had any effect, it was to stress trees in specific and limited areas, resulting in drier leaves that dropped more quickly, but that was an exception.
The drought’s dry weather continued through autumn, meaning that California had mostly clear, sunny days and cold nights, with little wind or precipitation. Those were ideal conditions for development of great fall color.
Look back through our archives and you’ll see why CaliforniaFallColor.com claims California to have the longest-lasting, most diverse and most spectacular autumn in America. No other area of the country compares.
The photographs submitted by amateur and professional photographers support that claim. If you happen to like a particular photograph you’ve seen on this website, look for the photographer’s link at left or Google them. Many sell their photographs.
Today, although autumn continues until Dec. 21, CaliforniaFallColor.com pulls back its reporting. We stop sending weekly updates and photographs to California meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers, because we’ve learned, over the years, that even though autumn continues for several more weeks, public interest in autumn wanes after Thanksgiving Day.
Nevertheless, if you happen to see some beautiful fall color, send a photo to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on our FB page.
There is still a lot of beautiful fall color to be seen in San Francisco, down the San Francisco Peninsula, in the South and East Bay, in California’s vineyards, in the historic mining towns of the Gold Country, in the Central Valley, throughout Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, and in the Deserts.
Fall color will continue to warm the landscape and our hearts well into December.