The beauty continues up Bishop Creek Canyon with most of the color surviving wind and a short-lived dusting of snow on Saturday. Now, California is experiencing a heat wave, with parts of the San Francisco Bay Area predicted to reach near 90 degrees F. That’s very unusual, even in summer. Hot days and cold nights mean intense color and this will likely be the last week where full peak can be seen at the highest elevations. As, Bishop Creek Canyon color spotter Jared Smith has reported two successive weeks of peak color and now a third. Here’s his latest report:
Overall Conditions Above 8,500′ Elevation – Peak (75 – 100%) GO NOW! While Bishop Creek lost some of its fall color this past week, cooler temps over the weekend, which included a dusting of snow and nighttime lows in the 20s. Those prime conditions set off much of the color that was just starting to turn. Peak color still dominates most of the higher elevation locations in the canyon with Parchers Camp, South Lake Road below Weir Pond, the North Lake Road and the approach to Lake Sabrina just below the dam glorious. It is still very much go-time in the Bishop Creek Cayon, evidenced by the legions of tripod-equipped photographers set up near many of the best canyon views. Jared Smith predicts peak color will persist well into next week, weather permitting. Drive carefully when visiting, as lots of photographers throw caution to the wind by setting up their cameras on blind corners on the mountain roads.
Overall Conditions Below 8,500′ Elevation – Patchy (10 – 50%) It was difficult to grade the lower part of Bishop Creek Canyon this week as some areas are starting to pop with touches of yellow, red and orange while other areas are barely showing anything other than lime green. Still, the areas below Aspendell and Bishop Creek Lodge are going to produce some great color over the next couple weeks if the weather holds out, and the forecast as of today looks very favorable with mild temps and light winds.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Weir Pond (9,650′) Aspen on the mountainside above Weir Pond were pretty well stripped of color during the wind storm late last week but thankfully aspen around the pond itself and lining the road are still spectacular. This will probably be the last week of ideal peak color at Weir, but the views are still worth the visit, especially mid-morning when the color reflects off of the surface of the pond the the Sierra Crest looming in the background.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Parchers Camp (9,260′) The color has really arrived in and around Parchers camp, especially on the canyon walls above the cabins. Also looking gorgeous are the trees along Bishop Creek in between Willow Campground and the resort. It’s hard to know how long the color is going to stick around here but I’d have to guess we’ve got a week of color continuing to develop before it’s all said and done.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Willow Campground (9,000′) Although somewhat of a wind-tunnel late last week, the color within the campground and on the canyon walls above the campground and along the beaver pond just past the campground are still looking beautiful. Not much in the way of red here but beautiful yellow and some orange are showing.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Sabrina Campground (9,000′) The brilliant red & orange aspen at the entrance of the campground have now started to fade. However, the view up Hwy 168 is still exceptional and the aspen above and within the campground are near at or very near peak color. The middle fork of Bishop Creek that runs through the campground is a nice slow crystal clear stretch of stream making for excellent reflections and gorgeous views.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) Aspen lining the creek within the campground are taking center stage with brilliant yellow and orange surrounding a grassy meadow that is coursed by a meandering and slow, trout-filled stream. The hillside just below the campground is still photo-worthy but less spectacular than last week. Just below the campground is Steiny Loop, a cool dirt road that winds away from South Lake Road along the western bank of Bishop Creek, So. Fork. The color is really popping even though there is still a touch of green left to change.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft) The green is just about gone now with the exception of evergreens along the stream and mixed in with larger aspens, providing spectacular views. Jared doesn’t recall ever seeing so much orange and red here but says it’s certainly welcome while it lasts. This was another area that was thought would be damaged by last week’s wind though Jared says he was pleasantly surprised by the vitality and vibrancy of the color between the meadow and the Tyee Lakes Trailhead bridge, especially on the right hand side of South
GO NOW! Near Peak – (50 – 75%) – Lake Sabrina (9,150′) This is an unusal report, as last week Lake Sabrina was at full peak… this week nearing peak. That’s because the color was stripped by wind this past week, though Lake Sabrina still has lots of color left to see, especially towards the inlet side of the lake. What color was lost was replaced by spectacular color which developed just below the dam and all along the road down to Sabrina Camp. Especially noteworthy are the small ponds just as you approach the dam. This is probably the last week of good color around the reservoir but the color just below will to continue to get better for the next week or so.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – North Lake (9,255′) Aspen along the shoreline near the outlet are as brilliant as Jared has ever seen them and are now extremely impressive. Also of note is the gorgeous view of the dirt road that goes along the east shore of the lake. Some really attractive pockets of red are to be seen, though some of the color up on the mountain was stripped over the weekend. Nonetheless, the North Lake area is probably the hottest color spot in the canyon as of now. Not to be missed are the aspen within the campground itself or on the canyon wall near the grass lake inlet. Watch out for photographers driving in this area as they seemed to be set up in the middle of the road or stopping their vehicle in the middle of the road all over the place up here. Can’t blame them, the views are insane right now.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Steiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) Jared mentioned the Steiny loop in the Table Mountain report and does so again, here. The campground at Mt. Glen is still patchy but it is really starting to exhibit some brilliant pure yellow in areas. Still enough green here to go with a patchy rating however just above the campground, the aspen are really starting to pop. This area should be near peak or peak by this time, next week.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) Still patchy at Mist Falls, but the deep dark green is turning lime green and yellow increasingly, each day. The best views of this area are probably a week or so out, possibly more, but photographers are already setting up along South Lake Road to get a view of the famous waterfall. Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Aspendell (8,400′) Lime green dominates the aspen at Aspendell but it has lightened considerably since last week. Aspen high up on the mountain near Cardinal Pinnacle are starting to fade a bit, but larger old-growth aspen are going to look pretty impressive.
GO NOW! Near Peak – (50 – 75%) – Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550) Like Sabrina Lake, this area also lost some color, particularly below Cardinal Pinnacle, but the lower aspen surrounding Cardinal Village and up towards Cardinal Mine are still looking amazing. This is another area that Jared downgraded as the loss of turned leaves means it is now again moving toward another peak, probably in a week, once the rest of the aspen at Cardinal Village finish turning. It’s hard to beat the view of the peaks above Sabrina with this gorgeous grove of aspen below and along the creek cascading down from Sabrina Camp above.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Four Jeffries Some really nice patches of color are now showing in and around this campground just a mile down from Bishop Creek Lodge. Some orange, yellow and even a bit of red has developed this week but we’ve got a lot more color to come here.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Intake II This small lake is somewhat of an enigma as most of the aspen all around the lake are still green as green can be but near the bubble hole on the right hand side of the dam there is a big patch of bright orange & red. Also some nice red showing on the west side of the lake. Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Big Trees Campground Very little color is visible at this lower elevation campground. The aspens are huge here and can be quite spectacular during peak color. I’m guessing we’re at least a couple weeks from seeing much here.
Wind : 4.3 knots
Humidity : 4%
- Tuesday Today 54 - 86 °F
- Wednesday Tomorrow 57 - 93 °F