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Autumn’s End

First snow, last leaves (12/9/17) Robert Kermen

Tundra Swans, Agua Fria Rd., Richvale (12/9/17) Robert Kermen

Sandhill Cranes, Agua Fria Rd., Richvale (12/9/17) Robert Kermen

When does autumn end? When snow blankets fallen leaves, as seen in Robert Kermen’s photograph of dry leaves near the Bear River (Hwy 20), or when the last migratory bird wings further south or begins flying north?

As long as current fall color photographs are posted here, it will not end, at least for CaliforniaFallColor.com readers.

Sacramento Valley – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Merlin falcon, Agua Fria Rd., Richvale (12/9/17) Robert Kermen

Black Phoebe, Durham (12/9/17) Robert Kermen

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Sonoma Hangin’ In There

Sunrise near Sebastopol, CA-116 (12/1/17) David Laurence

The beauty of autumn continues until it finally flames out, as seen in these images send by David Laurence.

Alexander Valley, Healdsburg (11/29/17) David Laurence

West of Sebastopol along CA-116, liquidambar are set ablaze by an autumn sunrise. While, midday in the Alexander Valley, north of Healdsburg, northern Sonoma County’s hillsides are scored with peaking vines.

Sonoma County – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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LA County Owns December

Viburnum, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (11/28/17) Frank McDonough

Cotoneaster carry late autumn berries, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (11/28/17) Frank McDonough

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia owns December.

Over recent years, California Fall Color has consistently received reports and photographs of autumn foliage from this arboretum between mid November and mid December, but it is early December when fall color there is most beautiful.

That is largely consistent among coastal arboretums and botanic gardens, including the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, Descanso Gardens, Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Balboa Park Botanical Garden and Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. Though, not all feature as broad a range of varieties with fall color.

At the LA County Arboretum, Frank McDonough, its Botanical Information Specialist and one of our perennial color spotters, will be leading a Fall Foliage Walking Tour of the LA County Arboretum on Saturday, Dec. 2. He worries, however, that this year’s fall color is “way late.” Warm temperatures and dry skies have kept the color from developing, as seen in his photos of cotoneaster and crepe myrtle.

Crepe myrtle show patchy color, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (11/28/17) Frank McDonough

Frank, who has recorded the beauty of autumn there for years, will be speaking about what triggers the change among the broad mix of foliage to be enjoyed at the LA County Arboretum, including: gingko biloba, fishtail gingko, Eastern white oak, horse chestnut, Japanese maple, Japanese lacquer trees, Daimyo oak, crepe myrtle, sweet gum (liquidambar), sour gum, red maple, Eastern redbud, American elm, Chinese tallow, Chinese parasol trees, Chinese pistache, birch, pomegranate, cotoneaster, California fan palm, tulip trees, sticks on fire, pin oak, Chinaberry, Jerusalem thorn, blaze maple, horned maple, California wild grape, flame leaf sumac and California fan palms.

So, as December arrives, peak color does as well, though this autumn it is late in appearing at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia.

LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia – Patchy

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Speeding Toward Winter At Warp

Midway Rd., Durham (11/24/17) Robert Kermen

With just 24 days of autumn remaining and winter storms now wetting California every few days, autumn is speeding toward winter at warp speed, as Robert Kermen depicts in his Thanksgiving Day photo of the Midway, between Durham and Chico (northern Sacramento Valley).

Sonoma Valley (11/24/17) Anson Davalos

Colusa (11/24/17) Nancy Hull

This past weekend’s storms stripped many Northern California trees and vines of color that was evident when these images were taken by Anson Davalos and Nancy Hull on Thanksgiving Day.

Cottonwood along the American River in the Sierra Foothhills have lost their lustrous crowns of bright gold and other landmark trees in the Sacramento Valley are now Past Peak.

Splotches of auburn and orange can still be seen in Gold Country and Central Valley towns, though rain has knocked much of the color from the trees, creating a mash of fallen leaves on the pavement.

Sierra Foothills – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Sacramento Valley – Past Peak – You Missed It.

 

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Pinot & Chardonnay Peak in Sonoma County

Chianti Rd., Geyserville (11/22/17) David Laurence Sharp

Madrone Rd., Sonoma Valley (11/18/17) David Laurence Sharp

Passalacqua Winery, Dry Creek Rd., Dry Creek Valley (11/22/17) David Laurence Sharp

Trentadue Winery, Geyserville (11/22/17) David Laurence Sharp

Madrone Rd., Sonoma Valley (11/18/17) David Laurence Sharp

Pinot and Chardonnay vines are peaking in Sonoma County, as is typical for Thanksgiving Week, local vineyard photographer David Laurence Sharp reports.

“The west county, where early ripening varieties such as Pinot Noir & Chardonnay are prevalent, are quickly losing their leaves,” Sharp writes, though “Northern Sonoma County, planted more to later ripening varieties, is in full color glory.”

Whereas, “Sonoma Valley is a mix of full-on color, some vineyards have lost their leaves.”

Sonoma Valley – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Orange Friday

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Color spotters across California will avoid waiting in lines today, on Black Friday. Instead, they will be appreciating an Orange Friday at Peak to Past Peak locations like these. GO NOW! You almost missed it.

North Coast

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Valley

Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Merlin falcon, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Prairie falcon, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Red-shouldered hawk, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shasta Cascade

Meadow Valley (11/12/17) Michael Beatley

San Francisco Bay Area

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego County

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

 

 

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Giving Thanks and Looking Back at 2017

On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is thankful to well over 100 color spotters and photographers who contributed reports, photographs and videos in 2017.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): Darrell Sano,  LA Leaf Peeper, Alena Nicholas, Sandy Steinman, Josh Wray, Anirudh Natekar, Jeff Simpson, Jared Smith, Shanda Ochs, Kimberly Kolafa, Clayton Peoples, Alicia Vennos, Phillip Reedy, Naresh Satyan, Max Forster, Jeri Rangel, Carol Novacek, Nancy Wright, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Marc Hoshovsky, Crys Black, Jeff Hemming, Michael Beatley, Tracy Zhou, Gabriel Leete, Frank McDonough, Anson Davalos, Karin Davalos, Susan Morning, Dennis Vance, Daniel Stas, Dan Clark, Mohammad Delwar, Bruce Wendler, Will Ridgeway, Del Hossain, Andrew Zheng, Rich Aeschliman, Lee Foster, Nancy Hull, Martha Fletcher, Chris Gallagher, Gene Miller, Nicole Coburn, Jay Thesken, Steve Greer, Steve Shinn, Star Masterson, Jim Gardner, Leor Pantillat, Kathy Wasson, Terry Rightmire, Daniel Danzig, Dandy Candywolf, Jim Lancaster, Marc Hoshovsky, Kevin Gilligan, Ravi Ranganathan, Michael Brandt, Robert Cherenson, Erich Castellon,  Ryan Prawiradjaja, Cory Poole, Jennifer Tiffan, Ahnalise Draper, Trent Vierra, Dylan Ren, Kathy Jonokuchi, Bridgett Lochen, Mark Harding, Dan Varvais, Shane Coker, Peter Robbins, Ben Waterman, Blair Lockhart, Gene Miller, Niven D Le, Maggie Huang, John Caffrey, Micayla Anderson, Tony Rice, Ren Trujillo, Sigthor Markuson, Xin Wang, Simon Lau, Jennifer Franklin, Daniel Stas, Roger Gonzales, Brian Patterson, Laura Shane, Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar, Adam Weist, Jay Huang, James Forbes, Susan Taylor, Shreenivasan Manievannan, Hari Reddy, Larry Robbins, Mark Harding, Michael Morris, Jeff Hemming, Mark Harding, David Olden, Parrish Todd, Herb Hwang, Michele James, Steve Crowley, Deane Simpson, Deborah Garber, Nancy Hull, Anthony Occhipinti, Mohan Ram, Terry Willard, Dona Montuori Whitaker, Laura Jean, Walt Gabler, Robert Kermen, Paige Kermen, Niles Armstrong, Cindy Lee Hooper, Danie Schwartz, William Thompson, Titus Davis, Peter Mikuljan, Al Auger, Vasu Nargundkar, David Laurence Sharp and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook and Twitter pages (you are too numerous to name).

Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color, and to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. We are truly indebted to every contributor.

Of course, this list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has driven the car and pulled it to the shoulder so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and tolerated my exuberance in showing her stunning photographs taken by our contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have read, followed, reacted and commented here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Above is our video impression of autumn in California in 2017. We produce a new video each autumn. To see them all, CLICK HERE.

The photographs selected for this year’s video represent: what happened this autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken in 2017.

If you would like your photographs considered for inclusion in next autumn’s video, take pictures of fall color in places not often photographed by other photographers. As, the most competition occurs among photographs of popular destinations.

Autumn doesn’t end today. It continues for nearly a month longer. We’ll continue to post photos and reports, as received. Though today, we begin to dial back reports and will post them less frequently. We have also stopped issuing weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and plan an Orange Friday.

See you next autumn, dude.

California (Peak 75-100%) GO NOW! – In our hearts, California is always peaking.

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Give Thanks, The Bay Area is Peaking

Fall color and Palm Trees, Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

In the early 1960s, Burlingame and San Mateo High Schools held “The Little Big Game” – their long-standing rivalry – on Thanksgiving Day.

I know, because I attended those games each Thanksgiving Day (Yes, I am that old).

Walking to the games (held at BHS) was a memory-searing experience. Cars, decorated with crepe paper ribbons of red, white, orange and black – the competing schools’ colors – rolled past, their passengers shouting cheers through open windows.

The distant sounds of bands, each trying to outdo the other with a louder fight song, was carried through the crisp autumn air across Burlingame parks and streets.

Those streets and parks are still forested with the same ancient trees. Their thick branches, during Thanksgiving Week, are laden with heavy loads of auburn, crimson, orange, ginger, yellow, gold, emerald and tawny-colored leaves.

Their crowns are supported by massive trunks rising from feet so gnarled that they unearth and twist sidewalks into tilting slabs of concrete.

Following the game, I’d return along those uprooted paths, my chilled hands stuffed deeply into my jacket’s felt-lined pockets, to a warm home in Hillsborough and Thanksgiving dinner.

Those days influenced a lifelong affection for autumn. I still associate vibrant Peak color and a football game played on a dewy field with Thanksgiving Day.

Today, a reporter from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat called to ask if the fall color is unusually vibrant everywhere or just in Santa Rosa (north of the Bay Area). I couldn’t say with certainty, as this has been an autumn when nothing seems to follow what’s happened historically.

Early this autumn, stands of aspen were still green near 10,000′ in elevation, while others at 8,000′ were peaking. Some groves had levels of color change, from Just Starting to Past Peak, all at once.

From across the state, anxious calls and emails arrived, asking why 2017 was so different. I had begun to question  everything I’d come to expect about fall color.

Then, proof arrived that this is not the end of times. Photographs from Bay Area color spotters Sandy Steinman and Darrell Sano renewed my faith in the traditions of autumn by reminding me of the lustrous hues I saw in my salad days.

The San Francisco Bay Area is again peaking on time for Thanksgiving Day. Give thanks.

San Francisco Bay Area – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The best color can be seen in the urban forests of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, San Francisco, Danville, Walnut Creek, Corte Madera, Lafayette, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell and San Jose. Peak of the Week.

California Grape, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Chinese pistache, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Persimmon, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

California Grape, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Fall color and palm trees, Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Telegraph Ave., Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Near Telegraph Ave., Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Japanese maple, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

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Beauty Returns to the Ventana Wilderness

 

Pine Valley, Ventana Wilderness (11/19/17) Leor Pantilat

Pine Valley, Ventana Wilderness (11/19/17) Leor Pantilat

Tassajara Rd., Ventana Wilderness (11/19/17) Leor Pantilat

Until this year, the Soberanes Fire in the Pine Valley area of the Ventana Wilderness was the most expensive wildfire in U.S. history.

The Tubbs Fire which scorched Santa Rosa in October erased that dubious record.

Color spotter Leor Pantilat revisited Pine Valley and the Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County this past Sunday to find that most of the ponderosa pines, several of the larger landmark black oaks and cottonwoods there survived the Soberanes Fire. The latter are carrying bright orange and golden color.

He found the Tassajara Road, a dirt road that leads to the trailhead at China Camp, also full of beautiful orange black oaks.

That is reassuring news to areas hit by wildfire this year. As, nature is forgiving and beauty returns quickly.

Leor classifies the Ventana Wilderness at Peak and advises that the area is prime for fall color hikes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making Pine Valley in the Ventana Wilderness Hike of the Week.

Ventana Wilderness, Monterey County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Fall Color Run

Gilman St., Berkeley (11/18/17) Sandy Steinman

Marathoners passed Peak fall color on their route along historic Telegraph Ave., through North Berkeley and the vibrant Fourth Street district, down Gilman Street, along the waterfront and back to downtown Berkeley this past weekend, while competing in the Berkeley Half Marathon.

Berkeley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!