Seasons Change from Fall Color to Holiday Sparkle
Although autumn doesn’t end until December 21, Thanksgiving Day always seems to be the last day of the year in which Californians are in an autumn state of mind. After that, a blizzard of holiday sales make falling prices overwhelm falling leaves.
While there’s still lots of color to be enjoyed, most Californians shift their search from looking for fall color to searching for colorful Christmas lights and Christmas trees.
However, just because the holiday season is upon us does not mean that Mother Nature has given up her beautiful show of autumn color. California’s urban landscape flickers with auburn, orange, crimson and yellow within its parks and along its boulevards. Because California’s weather has been mostly mild and clear this fall, 2009 will be remembered as one of the best for beautiful and long-lasting displays of fall color.
This is the last planned California Fall Color report of the season. Our thanks are expressed to the many color spotters across The Golden State who emailed photographs and reports.
75-100% — Lake County. Terre Logsdon reports that “While the harvest of pears, walnuts, and wine grapes has ended for the year, large swaths of color throughout the county remain to be enjoyed as the many oak varieties – black, blue, valley, and Oregon – are at 75% of peak and turning a muted gold to vibrant orange against a backdrop of evergreen pines. Sweet gums are a riot of color in the town of Lakeport, at their peak of color ranging from gold to deep burgundy. Flowering mulberries are nearing their peak ranging from canary yellow to bright green.
An annual Dickens’ Christmas Market occurs Nov. 28 in Lakeport. This annual Christmas event transforms Lakeport into an old English village, complete with costume-clad characters, food booths, and entertainment, as well as an all-day Christmas Market from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lighted parade begins at 6 p.m. and Christmas tree lighting follows at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street. CLICK HERE for more about this event or call (707) 263-5092.
75-100% — Onyx. Color spotter Danna Stroud of Mammoth Lakes reports that lovely gold colors clusters of trees in the Southern Sierra along CA-178 west of CA-14 and east of Lake Isabella. Danna oversees the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau which will soon open one of the three new California Welcome Centers recently approved for designation by the California Travel & Tourism Commission. The new Welcome Centers are located in Mammoth Lakes, El Dorado Hills and Vista and should open in early 2010. When these state-sanctioned visitor information centers open, the number of California Welcome Centers will increase to 17. California Welcome Centers bring together visitor information from across California and are great places to get maps and guidance on visiting California.
75-100% — San Francisco Bay Area. Color is at or past peak around San Francisco, providing lots of nostalgic autumn color in the Bay Area for the Thanksgiving Day weekend. If you’re in The City this weekend, head to Yerba Buena Gardens and Golden Gate Park for the most diverse show of color. Cindy Hu reports that russet and gold have “been supplanted by LEDs in many corners of The City. Market Street is adorned with illuminated snowflakes and the palm trees in Union Square have been encircled with white lights.” She recommends checking out these “bright spots:” Embarcadero Center, Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, Huntington Park, Castro and 18th Streets, Union Street, Golden Gate Park, The Presidio and Fisherman’s Wharf. CLICK HERE for more details.
Beautiful color may also be found down the Peninsula in Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto and Los Altos; in the East Bay communities of Danville, Moraga and Walnut Creek; and in the north bay cities of San Rafael and Novato.
75-100% — Sacramento. This Central Valley city is known as being second only to Paris in the number of trees, per capita. Sacramento has so many trees that special rules govern when and where you can park, so that leaves can be cleared during autumn. The best displays of fall color are found downtown, surrounding the State Capitol, in the Fabulous Forties (avenues numbered in the 40s) and surrounding Land Park, south of US 50 and downtown.
Past Peak — Plumas County. Color spotter Suzi Brakken reports that the Plumas and Lassen National Forest offices are now selling Christmas tree cutting permits for $10. All you need is a saw, dry boots and snow clothes. Keep in mind that snow is plentiful in the higher elevations, especially where the favorite Silvertips are found. The permits for Plumas National Forest are also available at many local businesses, including at the Plumas County Visitors Center at the Quincy airport, a half mile west of Quincy on CA-70. Maps of approved cutting areas come with permits, which are on sale through Dec. 24.
On the Thanksgiving weekend, holiday light parades will be held in Chester and Taylorsville, and merchant open houses with refreshments and tree-lightings will be held in small towns throughout Plumas County this weekend and next. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Past Peak — Gold Country. Color has now descended below 1,000′ in the gold country with little left to change among the oaks and maples.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! See you next fall!
Tags: Autumn, autumn leaves, California, California Fall Color, Central Valley, Eastern Sierra, Fall Color, Fall Color in California, fall leaves, High Sierra, Lake County, Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountain, photographing fall color, Photography, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area