San Bernardino Mountain color spotters Nick and Alena Barnhart headed north to Yosemite this past weekend and found the Valley at full peak.
From the Yosemite Chapel shot, it’s easy to see that Yosemite’s trees have been dropping their leaves for a couple of weeks. Nick delayed his trip a week with hopes rain would occur and the waterfalls would be flowing again.
However, very little rain or snow has yet reached the high country, keeping the waterfalls nearly dry.
Nick said the leaves were showering the valley floor as they departed (note to self: recruit more spotters to check out Yosemite Valley in late October each year), though he imagines the color will continue for another week and will probably be near past peak by Thanksgiving Day. It is surprising to me that we don’t receive more photo submissions from Yosemite, considering it’s probably the most photographed location in California.
Presently, fall color is mostly limited to Yosemite Valley, though Wawona also has good color and areas opened up by wildfires in the past 25 years have become repopulated with colorful bigleaf maple, black oak, dogwood and shrubbery.
Temperatures have chilled significantly across the Sierra Nevada this past week. Considering we’ve had clear skies, that would normally lead to more intense color, but in Yosemite’s case the color is unlikely to improve, as the trees have already peaked.
One special aspect of autumn in the national park is wildlife photography. As leaves drop, the forest opens up leaving the wildlife little to hide behind. Also, they’re often backgrounded by warm color, as seen in Nick’s shot of the mule deer.
The animals most easily photographed are bear, mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, ground squirrels and birds. The deer and coyotes are particularly visible and mostly ignore people.
Santa Clara Valley (most of you know it as Silicon Valley) color spotter Anson Davalos provides a view of the Big Oak Flat Road (North Entrance – Hwy 120) as it descends toward Yosemite Valley above Foresta. This area was grey with cinder and ash following the park’s 1989 fire.
Today, young aspen, dogwood and oaks now paint the hillside with yellow, rose and orange fall color. Given the present beauty of this area, it should improve to being one of the most spectacular displays of fall color in the national park in coming years.
Yosemite National Park (Peak 75-100%) - All areas in the national park are at peak or past peak. Yosemite Valley and Wawona have a week, perhaps two (depending on wind) of peak color left to go. GO NOW!