California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Going Big, Early – Up Bishop Creek – Go Now!

Sierra Crest with Cardinal Mine Grove and Middle Fork, Bishop Creek (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Sierra Crest with Cardinal Mine Grove and Middle Fork, Bishop Creek (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Fall color is early and big up Bishop Creek Canyon, with an exceptional display of orange and red appearing.  We spoke with color spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort, today, who said “I can’t recall a year when the fall color peaked this early.”  His latest report (following) and photos tell it all.  Note the number of fly fishermen and women either floating or standing in various streams (look closely).  What incredibly beautiful places to go fishing!

Quaking Aspen (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

Quaking Aspen (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Overall Conditions above 8,500 ft – Things are progressing quickly in the higher reaches of the Bishop Creek Canyon. There is still a lot of green along the road and in most of the parking areas however the canyon walls are really exploding with color. We typically see a lot of yellow, but this year it seems there is more brilliant orange and red than usual. It’s hard to say how long the higher color will stay but if the weather stays good, these areas will still around for a bit. This is the earliest we can remember  the color being this far along this early. Many areas are still well below 75% but the majority of the higher canyon walls are at least 75%.

15 – 30% – Overall Conditions below 8,500 ft – The vast majority of aspen below 8,500 ft are still mostly green, though a lot of lime green is showing with some pockets of yellow, especially on the So. Fork Bishop Creek above Bishop Creek Lodge.

Location-specific Reports

Table Mountain Camp (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Table Mountain Camp (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Mt. Glen Camp to Table Mountain Camp (8,600 ft) – This area is turning fast and is much closer to the 75% mark than the 50% mark. While the roadside aspen is still showing mostly green hues, the hillside to the east is really exploding with bright yellow.

Mountain Glen Campground, above Bishop Creek Lodge (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Mountain Glen Campground, above Bishop Creek Lodge (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

30 -50% – Mountain Glen Campground (8,400 ft) – The grove directly above the campground is starting to turn nicely while the aspen down along the creek are still very green. Still another week or so before this area really starts to pop.

Mist Falls (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Mist Falls (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

15-30% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350 ft) – Quite a bit of color change on either side of the waterfall but it’s still mostly green around the falls and below the falls. Still a while before this area is at it’s peak.

30 – 50% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900 ft) – This grove tends to pop early but this year it seems to be a little later than the surrounding areas. The aspen along the creek and around the campground itself are showing lime green with a little yellow showing but not much in the way of color just yet.

Surveyor's Meadow (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Surveyor’s Meadow (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

GO NOW! - 75-100% – Surveyors Meadow (8,975 ft) – Quite a surprising sight to see as the hillsides just up canyon from Surveyor’s Meadow are nearing full color. The groves along the creek, along the road, and the two large groves to the west and north of the meadow are still showing a lot of green. I’m guessing the next week to 10 days will be the best views at this location. This is much earlier than we’re used to seeing, perhaps the drought is at work here.

Willow Campground (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Willow Campground (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Willow Campground (9/19/13) © Krisdina Karady

Willow Campground (9/19/13) © Krisdina Karady

30 – 50% – Willow Campground (9,100 ft) – This area is difficult to grade because the aspen along the road and in the campground are only showing lime green and some moderate yellow while the aspen perched in the granite cliff just above the campground are nearly all yellow and looking beautiful. The hillside above Parchers looks incredible from Willow Camp and contrasts nicely with the green aspen along the road.

Parcher's Camp (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Parcher’s Camp (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Parchers Camp – It’s really quite remarkable that while the resort grounds contains mostly green aspen, the surrounding canyon walls have changed drastically in the last week and tons of yellow, orange and even a little red is showing in just about every direction. We haven’t seen any evidence of leaves dropping so we’re hoping the views will remain spectacular for a while here at the resort.

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

GO NOW! - 75 – 100% – Weir Pond (9,700 ft) – This are is also hard to grade as the groves directly to the west of the pond are fully turning while the foliage surrounding the pond only has pockets of color with a lot of green still showing. Still, I would guess that from a photographer’s standpoint the 7 to 10 days will be the best.

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

Weir Pond (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Lake Sabrina (9,150 ft) – The vast majority of the color has already arrived at Lake Sabrina, quite a surprise given how early in the season we area. Some groves at the southwest end of the lake still have more color to offer but the dam, east shore, and the higher groves surrounding the lake are all exploding with yellow, orange and red. How long the color sticks around is anyone’s guess but it’s safe to say that the sooner you make it there, the better. With the lake level down, there is a somewhat limited opportunity for spectacular lake shots this year.

GO NOW! – 50 -75% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell    (8,550 ft) – Quite a change from last week with brilliant yellow blanketing the canyon to the east of Hwy 168 and flowing all the way down towards Cardinal Mine. Still a lot of green surrounding Cardinal Village but the aspen above there is looking fantastic. We’re not too far off from some peak color here.

Hwy 168, below Sabrina Camp (9/19/13) Jared Smith

Hwy 168, below Sabrina Camp (9/19/13) Jared Smith

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Sabrina Campground (9,000 ft) – The aspen along the road near Sabrina Camp are in peak fall color. Thankfully the large old growth aspen in and around the campground and along the stream are still mostly lime green so more color will continue to develop in the area.

North Lake (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

North Lake (9/19/13) © Jared Smith

North Lake (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

North Lake (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

North Lake Road (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

North Lake Road (9/19/13) © ShaleAnn Cluff

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – North Lake (9,255 ft) – North Lake has a great variety of color showing right now. The road below the lake is nearing peak with lots of yellow and orange. Along the lake however, there is mostly lime green aspen with just a few touches of yellow. The main grove that blankets the mountain above the lake and reaches down to the west shore is showing a lot of color up high with more green towards the lower part of the grove.

15 – 30% – Intake II  (8,100 ft) – The grove above the lake is showing quite a bit of yellow but not much going on with the trees surrounding the lake itself. Look for this area to be at its best in a few weeks

0-15% – Forks, Four Jeffries, Big Trees & Bishop Park Camgrounds (8,000 ft – 8,300 ft) – No yellow to speak of in these areas but the aspen are certainly turning to lime green in most of these areas. These areas tend to peak quite a bit later than the higher reaches of the canyon so look for these areas to start looking their best around the end of the month or early October depending on the weather.

 

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