San Jacinto Mountains – Go Now!

Cottonwood, Lake Hemet Campgrounds (10/31/12) Todd Stepien

75 – 100% – San Jacinto Mountains – Todd Stepien, of the Lake Hemet Campgrounds in the San Jacinto Mountains (Southern California) reports cottonwood glowing bright yellow.  Other species to be seen in the San Jacintos are California black oak, which display large orange leaves set against black branches.  Visit for directions and information on camping in the area.

Los Angeles County

15 – 30% – LA County Arboretum – Frank McDonough reports color at the arboretum is looking about the same as reported last week, with some species showing color, but at the arboretum’s sister garden, Descanso Gardens, located in somewhat cooler La Canada, more color is appearing among liquidambars and one very red and very small Rhus bush.

Descanso Gardens (11/1/12) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles Times Finds California Fall Color

Los Angeles Times travel writer Chris Erskine is the kind of guy you’d like to pal around with as he travels the backroads of California in his rented Ford.  Erskine knows the backwater places where interesting characters tell fascinating stories.

That kind of traveled writer knows what’s genuine and intriguing.  So, when he called and, with journalistic skepticism, said he planned to search for the color we describe in this blog, I worried he might miss it by leaving for the Eastern Sierra too late in the month and arriving after a storm had ruined what’s been glorious, so far.  Sure enough, snow fell just before his trip.

A medium as influential as the LA Times could, with one disappointing experience, reinforce the belief that California doesn’t have great fall color.  It’s easy to conclude, from our state’s tropical palm trees, sunglass-wearing celebrities and sun-drenched beaches, that California has only one season… summer.  And, Los Angelenos (along with most Californians) live along the coast where (except in dazzling pockets) little fall color is seen.  Even in his article, Erskine described this blog as containing “improbable postings.”

However, seeing is believing, and California didn’t disappoint.  The spectacular fall color identified within this blog proved not to be inspired by delerium.  Erskine described what he was seeing as “stunning” and “majestic” when he called from the road.  The storm we fretted about hadn’t blown away the beauty.  It only enhanced it, dusting High Sierra ranges with white, while firey red, orange and yellow reflected below upon “sapphire” waters.

To read Chris Erskine’s story, CLICK HERE.

Awesome Autumn at Lake Tahoe

Quaking Aspen, North Lake Tahoe (10/28/12) John Poimiroo

This has been an extended autumn with little wind (so far) to knock turned leaves from the trees.  It’s now peaking from June Lake to the Northern Sierra.  Over the weekend,  we drove to North Lake Tahoe and found spots of color along I-80, CA-267 and CA-28 (North Lake Blvd.).

Black Cottonwood, Kings Beach (10/28/12) John Poimiroo

North Lake Tahoe (10/28/12) John Poimiroo

75 – 100% – Cisco Grove (5,500′) – a large stand of cottonwood are golden yellow beside I-80.

75 – 100% – Northstar at Tahoe – Stands of aspen on the east side of Hwy 267 are golden or past peak.

75 – 100% – North Lake Blvd. – Stands of aspen along Hwy 28 have turned yellow and are approaching past peak.

Gallimauphry – East/West Sierra, Wine/Gold Country

June Lake Loop (10/25/12) Jeff Titcomb

Here’s a roundup of color seen around the state.  We received photos only from Mono County.  I drove through Napa and Sonoma Counties today, but had no time to stop and take photos, so must leave that to local color spotters.  Visit the “About” page on this site to find our email address.

Also, if you’re frustrated that we haven’t responded to requests posted on our Facebook page, it got blocked by Facebook because we responded to a message sent to us by one of our color spotters.  The message was actually a Facebook virus that infected our site.  So, Facebook has blocked us from posting until they’re sure the virus is gone.

This blog, however, is not infected, so it will continue to post reports.  Because the Facebook message from the spotter related to “color change,” we thought it had something to do with fall color.  And, since it came from a productive spotter, we clicked on the request, only to learn today that it was a virus.

Because it was a virus and because we clicked to accept the color spotter’s request, the virus may have sent itself among our Facebook friends.  So, if you are a subscriber to our Facebook page and receive a request from us to something to do with “color change,” don’t accept it.   In the meantime, here’s what’s happening:


June Lake Loop (10/25/12) Jeff Titcomb


June Lake Loop (10/25/12) Jeff Titcomb


June Lake Loop (10/25/12) Jeff Titcomb

Eastern Sierra

Past Peak – Bishop Creek Canyon (above 7,500’) – All elevations above 7,500’ are now past peak, though some spectacular color can be seen in pockets of the Bishop Creek Canyon.

75 – 100% – Bishop Creek Canyon (below 7,500’) – The lower areas of Bishop Creek Canyon are in their glory, with lots of yellow and spots of orange.

Owens Valley, Bishop (10/25/12) Jon Klusmire

50 – 75% – Owens Valley – The color seen in Bishop and other towns long US 395 contrasted with snow atop Eastern Sierra peaks is breathtaking.

75 – 100% – Convict Lake – The mix of snow and fall color this past week has been beautiful.

75 – 100% – Mammoth Lakes – Spirits are up at Mammoth Mountain which reported 18” of new snow on the mountain this past week.  Combined with the fall color that’s still to be seen in the Lakes Basin, the area is “stunning.”

75 – 100% – June Lake – Color is at peak along the June Lake Loop, described by a reporter as “magnificent.”  The early snow has provided beautiful contrast.

Western Sierra

30 – 50% – Yosemite Valley – Dogwood are coloring pink, the bigleaf maple have dropped leaves into fern spring  and the black oak are turning bright orange and black in time for Halloween.  The famous pioneer Eastern Sugar Maple near the Yosemite chapel is past peak.  Yosemite nature photographer, Michael Frye reports on his blog (see link at left), “… autumn is arriving slowly. I found some nice color across the river from El Capitan, underneath Middle Cathedral Rock, where most of the maples have turned yellow. Some other maples around the valley have also turned, along with a few dogwoods and cottonwoods, but most of the deciduous trees are still green.  It looks like the peak color is still at least a week away, but the good news is that most of the trees seem to be in good shape. The leaves on a few dogwoods have already wilted and turned brown, but these are a small minority. Last year most of the cottonwood leaves wilted before changing color, but this year the cottonwoods look normal—if still mostly green.”

Gold Country

75 – 100% – Sierra Foothills – Grasses and ground covers in the Sierra foothills are glowing golden with splashes of maroon, along Latrobe Road, CA-16 and Buena Vista Road.  Amador County vineyards are just beginning to show yellow and auburn, mostly lime green on the vines.

North Coast

30 – 50% – Napa Valley – A hillside of vines at the intersection of CA-12 and the Silverado Trail is flush with ruby, yellow, orange and lime.

30 – 50% – Carneros – Vines near Cuvaison and Domaine Carneros at CA-12 and Duhig Rd. are yellow, red and lime.

30 – 50% – Valley of the Moon, Sonoma County – Vines along Stage Gulch Rd (CA-116) now sparkle with red, yellow and lime.

LA County Starts To Burn

California Wild Grape, LA County Arboretum (10/20/12) Frank McDonough

The LA County Arboretum with its spectacular variety of trees has begun reporting precocious color among the Chinese pistache, California wild grapes, and Nyssa sylvatica.  Color spotter (and resident botanist) Frank McDonough reports, ” Things are starting to look up here at the L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.”  We look forward to Frank’s photos and reports.  If you’re from Southern California and would like to contribute, click on “Comment” below or post on our Facebook page (click “f” at upper left).

Chinese pistache (10/20/12) Frank McDonough

Shasta Cascade Approaching Peak – Go Now!

Maple – Greenville, Plumas County (10/21/12) Jeff Titcomb

Shasta Cascade color spotter Brittini McGuire provides this roundup of color from far northeastern California.  An early winter storm that rolled through Northern California this past week has not diminished the color to be seen across the Shasta Cascade, as most of the trees are still approaching peak, though some previously turned leaves were blown off branches.  Areas of the Shasta Cascade – other than Sacramento Valley cities – are near peak.  Here’s the latest:

50 – 75% – Siskiyou County – The change has been slow but with the colder nights are finally contributing to sugaring. The forest is full of yellow with some red.

Modoc County:

50 – 75% – Modoc National Forest – Modoc NF is experiencing bright fall colors with mostly yellow and orange, with some red. Many trees have begun to lose their leaves.

50 – 75% – Alturas – Approaching peak with lots of yellow, green, oranges and some red.

Lassen County

50 – 75% – Eagle Lake – The BLM is reporting Eagle Lake as “A sight to see,” with cooler weather having accelerated the color change.  Aspen have been busy changing to gold, orange and red.

Shasta County

50 – 75% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area – Trees at lower elevations around the lake are at about 50% of change.  The oaks, brush, and smaller trees are all showing great color change with bright lime and yellow.  Trees on the mountain are now about 60% color change.

50 – 75% – Redding – This city is a convenient base from which to explore the color to be seen in upstate California.  It also has beautiful color, particularly near Sundial Bridge, along the Sacramento River Trail and in residential areas south of City Hall.  Lots of yellow, orange and red can be seen among both native and exotic trees.  Visit the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens on the north side of Sundial Bridge for a display of varied species.

Trinity County

50 – 75% – Trinity County – Most deciduous species in Trinity County have turned yellow and red colors.

Tehama County

Past Peak – Lassen Volcanic National Park – The main park road through Lassen Volcanic National Park is now covered with snow, due to early storms that arrived this week.

50 – 75% – Manzanita Lake – Color spotters near this scenic lake at the northwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park are reporting aspen and willows surrounding the lake having turned yellow, with maples turning red.  Black cottonwoods near Hat Creek standout with bright gold.

30 – 50% – Red Bluff – Catalpa trees are turning from bright green to yellow. The Redbuds are showing their golden tone.

30 – 50% – Butte County – Chico is known as both the City of Roses and the City of Trees.  In autumn, the city is flush with color from a variety of big elms, black oaks, alders, gingkos, hornbeams, birch and maples.  Look for lots of red and yellow, though still plenty of green this week.  Peak will occur in the coming two weeks, should storms diminish.

75 – 100% – Plumas County – Plumas County has been at full peak, particularly in the highest areas of the Sierra for the past two weeks.  Indian rhubarb, aspen and bigleaf maples are in their glory, though brown is beginning to join these colors.  The cottonwood and aspen in the Graeagle-Quincy area are gorgeous.  Despite being at peak, most trees have not yet turned, so there’s still a week or two left of fall color in this beautiful corner of California.

Tornados, Snow and Fall Color

June Lake Loop, Winter/Fall Contrast (10/22/12) Nicholas Barnhart

Despite this week’s early winter storm which dropped tornados and snow on Northern California, there still remains a lot of fall color yet to develop across California.

The storm knocked turned leaves from branches, though any that had not yet turned (mostly under 7,000′) will still show color once weather patterns return to warmer days and chill nights.  The storm is predicted to continue through Wednesday, so a prediction of its effect on fall color will have to wait until the storm passes.

June Lake (10/17/12) Alicia Vennos

In comparison, here’s a shot of June Lake taken this past week before the storm by Mono County color spotter Alicia Vennos.

Parchers Last Report – Beauty Still To Be Seen

South Lake Road (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

Jared Smith, Krisdina Karady and the team at Parchers Resort in the Eastern Sierra (South Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon) go out with a bang on this, their final report of 2012.  Our deep thanks are expressed to Jared and his team for more than a month of great reports.  Here’s his last, though it doesn’t mean the color has ended in the Eastern Sierra.

Overall Conditions above 8500ft

The majority of the color above 8500ft is now past its prime or gone entirely but there are still glimpses of beauty to be had in a few groves in the 8500 to 9000ft level, especially above Willow Camp and behind Table Mountain Campground.

Overall Conditions below 8500ft

Peak color is upon us in the 8000ft to 8500ft range, especially near Aspendell and along the South Fork Bishop Creek by Bishop Creek Lodge. The forecast looks cold and breezy next week so it’s anyone’s guess if it will hold out but as of today, it is spectacular.

75-100% – South Lake Rd above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft)

Mostly past peak, but still a lot of nice creek shots with some yellow, orange and a little red to be found.

Mt Glen Camp (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Mountain Glen Campground (8400ft)

This area is right about the cutoff from peak color to past peak. Some thick groves of old growth aspen are really putting on a show here. Along with the Bishop Creek Lodge area, this is possibly the finest color in the canyon at present.

Mist Falls (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft)

This area is brilliant and in full peak color with lots of yellow and some orange as well. Stunning views of these groves this week.

The Groves (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell (8550ft)

Its go-time in Aspendell as the aspen are putting on a real show. Best on the middle fork.

75-100%% – Forks Campground (8000ft – 8300ft)

There is one spectacular grove of Aspen just below Intake II and just above Forks Campground. A very unique rock formation above the campground makes for some very interesting opportunities for the avid photographer.

Past Peak – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft)

A few stands of Aspen left, especially if you walk into the campground to view the grove east towards the peaks but the majority of the aspen have lost their leaves.

Past Peak – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft)

Not much left here, just a few trees left showing some rosy hues and yellow.

Past Peak – Willow Campground (9100ft)

Most of the color found along the roadside last week is completely gone however there is still some great stuff if you go into the campground and walk from there towards Parchers Resort along the old road. Still some great cottonwoods and aspen with brilliant yellow and there are a few bright red snowberry bushes on the granite cliffs offering a very cool contrast between granite, aspen and red brush.

Past Peak – Lake Sabrina (9150ft)

Pretty much done for the season.

Past Peak – North Lake (9255ft)

Not much left at the lake but the view from above looking down on Aspendell is still worth a Look.

All Photographs Copyright 2012 by Jared Smith, or courtesy of fall color contributor Krisdina Karady.

Lone Pine to Bishop – Glowing

US 395, Bishop (10/17/12) Jon Klusmire

Eastern California Museum, Independence (10/17/12) Jon Klusmire

15 – 30-% – Owens Valley – Color spotter Jon Klusmire reports spots of bright yellow just outside Bishop, red near the Eastern California Museum in Independence and the entire lengh of U.S. 395 from Lone Pine to Bishop showing a mix of color from deep green to bright yellow.  He comments, “It’s like the yellow or red pops out of nowhere amid the sage and other greenery.”

Lassen Volcanic NP Peaking – Go Now!

Here’s the latest from the Shasta Cascade, as reported by color spotters Grace Smith and Amanda Sweeny.  Areas peaking in the Shasta Cascade and Northern Sierra include Lassen Volcanic National Park and drainage areas of Plumas County.

CLICK HERE to see photos of Lassen Volcanic’s fall color.

Shasta Cascade

30 – 50% – Siskiyou County – There has been very little change with the colors in the past week.  Colder nighttime temps are contributing to some sugaring, with lime, yellow and some red.

15 – 30% – Modoc County – The Modoc National Forest is reporting lots of yellow, some orange and red.  Alturas is experiencing quite a bit of change with lots of yellows, greens and oranges.

Lassen County

30 – 50% – BLM Eagle Lake / Bizz Johnson Trail & Lassen National Forest – The aspen have been busy, changing to lime green, yellow, orange, red and gold.

Shasta County

15 – 30% – Whiskeytown NRA – About 25% trees have turned red, yellow and brown near the visitor’s center. Trees on the mountain are still filled with bright green and yellow.

0 – 15% – Redding – So far, very little color is apparent in Redding with yellow and bright green predominating.

30 – 50% – Trinity County – Approaching half of the bigleaf maple are now showing yellow, there’s still a lot of lime

Tehama County

Lassen Volcanic National Park – Ranger Amanda Sweeny reports:

75 – 100% – Manzanita Lake – The alder, cottonwood and occasional aspen are at peak color.

50 – 75’% – Devastated Area / Hat Creek – The cottonwood are near
peak color and the aspen are still slowly turning

75 – 100% – Southwest area – The rusty orange mat of Mules Ear is dotted with
late blooming rabbit brush.

0 – 15% – Red Bluff- Experiencing ittle no to change just yet.

0 – 15% – Butte County –  Starting to show yellow and red.

75 – 100% – Plumas County – Indian Rhubarb (drainages) and aspen are now at peak.  The dogwoods are starting to show their bright pinks and greens. Oakland Camp area is bursting with color while their oaks are starting to turn.