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Sierra Primed For Fall

North Lake (6/26/17) Alena Nicholas

Summer has just begun, but all indications are that the Sierra Nevada are now primed for a spectacular autumn.

Convict Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Virginia Lakes (6/17) Alena Nicholas

South Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

South Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

June Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

June Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Gull Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alena Nicholas spent the past week touring the east and west sides of the central Sierra, returning with these beautiful images. She said all the lakes were “pretty much full to capacity” with locals reporting the lakes are as high as they can remember them ever being. Even Grant Lake (in Mono County near June Lake) is full. Alena says the last time she saw it, it was not much more than a stream of water.

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Creeks have become mini rivers in places where Alena waded, previously. Now, they’re so full its too unsafe to enter them.

Quaking Aspen (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

North Lake Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The aspen I’ve seen on springtime trips into the Sierra, and those which Alena captured, are healthy and green with no indication of black spot fungus. Though she also noted several aspen whose branches have been bent or snapped branches from heavy snows. This is particularly evident “along Silver Lake, and up below Sabrina Lake” where “a few of the Aspens seemed to have lost their leaves,” perhaps from broken branches.

Bishop Creek Meadow (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Western Blue Flag iris, Rush Creek (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Grant Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Western Tiger Swallowtail and willow (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Mule Deer, Rush Creek Meadows (6/17) Alena Nicholas

Mule Deer, Rush Creek Meadows (6/17) Alena Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alena reports meadows as being lush green and full of wildflowers and wildlife. At higher elevations, like Virginia Lakes, there’s still a good amount of snow melting with waterfalls everywhere. I returned from the east coast this past week, flying over the snowcapped Sierra which looked more like they do in March, than June.

Mono Lake (6/17) Alena Nicholas

What does this all mean for fall color spotters, leaf peepers and photographers? In past years when there’s been a lot of water, the autumn show seems to start slightly later (a few days to a week) and last longer. That’s because the leaves are healthier and less likely to dry out and drop sooner.

As for the intensity of the color, that all depends on autumn weather.  As, once days begin to shorten and trees stop producing chlorophyll, as long as the days remain warm and the nights cold (clear skies), autumn color should be intense and vibrant.

Until then, let’s enjoy California’s 8-month spring (wildflowers began appearing in the Deserts in February and continue to bloom at increasingly higher elevations through September).

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Bishop Creek – Getting Past Peak, But Lots to Enjoy

Groves at Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Groves at Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

A lot changed this week which we were unable to report, due to “technical difficulties.” Fundamentally, high areas of the canyon were at peak on Friday, then conditions deteriorated with North Lake – in particular – taking the biggest hit.  Wind stripped the beautiful color on Saturday and it was gone by Sunday.

We weren’t sure, until we’d received confirming reports from several spotters, as some of our very reliable spotters up the canyon were unable to report. Now, I know you all want to know:

Q. “What does this mean for fall color viewing and photography?”

A. Peak color can be seen at many, many areas of Bishop Creek Canyon and throughout the Eastern Sierra. More areas will peak in coming days. So, despite that several favorite areas have peaked, the show isn’t over.  Far from it.

Please be mindful, however, of where it’s peaking and avoid fruitless trips to places where it has already peaked. You missed it, there.

In a nutshell, here’s where to go and where not near Bishop, Calif.

North Lake Road, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

North Lake Road, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

General Conditions – Bishop Creek Canyon

  • Above 9000’ – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • 8,000’ and 9,000’ – Near Peak (50-75%) to Peak (75-100%)
  • 7,000’ to 8,000’ – Patchy (10-50%)

Weir Pond (9,650’) – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Sabrina Lake, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Sabrina Lake, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Sabrina Campground Area (9,000’) – Peak ( 75-100%) to Past Peak GO NOW! or YOU MISSED IT!  – The aspen along Hwy 168 are now past peak, however aspen within the campground itself and along the stream are still peaking.

Parchers Resort (9,260’) – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – The canyon walls to the east and west of the resort are now past peak.

Willow Campground (9,000’) – Peak to Past Peak YOU ALMOST MISSED IT! – The campground and the aspen lining the road and the beaver pond are still holding their peak color, though many have peaked.

Table Mountain Camp (8,900’) – Peak to Past Peak YOU ALMOST MISSED IT! – The mountainside down canyon from the campground is now past peak, though aspen along the creek are peaking.

Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Surveyor’s meadow is now a mix of peaking and past peak stands. Give it another week of peak color here.

Lake Sabrina (9,150’) – Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!  

Sabrina Approach, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Sabrina Approach, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Sabrina Approach (9,100’) – Near Peak (50-75%) – The approach to Sabrina and the small ponds below the dam are peaking.

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

North Lake (9,255’) – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

North Lake Road – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – Absolutely beautiful. This area has a week or two left of peak color.

Aspendell (8,400’) – Patchy (10-50%) Aspendell is often one of the last areas of Bishop Creek Canyon to change.  This area has many stands of lush aspen in it.

Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The canyon slope from above Cardinal Village up to Cardinal Pinnacle is losing its peak color, though areas near the middle fork of Bishop Creek and surrounding Cardinal Village are peaking.

Four Jeffries (8,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)  – More yellow is appearing.

Intake II (8,000’) – Near Peak (50-75%) – Lovely right now!

Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Patchy – (10 – 50%) – Yellow is now showing among the aspen.

Round Valley – Patchy (10-50%) – Gigi deJong reports that the Round Valley, northwest of Bishop, is carpeted with brilliant cadmium yellow rabbitbrush, providing a spectacular scene, particularly in morning light. Cottonwood along Pine Creek are a mix of developing gold and lime.

When Should I Go?

Laurel Canyon, Mono County (9/28/16) Josh Wray

Laurel Canyon, Mono County (9/28/16) Josh Wray

“When should I go?” is the most common question we receive.

“Go Now!” is our response. Don’t put off visiting an area if it is Near Peak or, certainly, at Peak. As, when a location is peaking it only has two weeks – at most – of peak color to be seen at that elevation.

Each photo posted on this site, identifies when and where it was taken. We try to post photos not older than a week. What you see in a photo will be different by the time you get there.

Above, Josh Wray captured yellow and lime aspen leaves on his hike up Laurel Canyon, near Mammoth, this week.  Today, many of those green leaves have turned to lime, the lime leaves to yellow, and some of the yellow leaves have fallen.

If you want to see a specific area at peak, go to “Categories” on the left side of this site and click on the region you plan to visit.  Then, scroll back in time to see where it was peaking and when in the past.

If you can only travel on a given date, click on “Archives” on the left side of this site and scroll back in time to see what was peaking.  Then, go there.

If you want to see reports for specific locations (e.g., Laurel Canyon), enter the location in the Search bar above the map.

But mostly, GO NOW!

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California Fall Color Looks Back at 2015

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On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is indebted to every color spotter and photographer who contributed photographs and reports in 2015.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): LA Leaf Peeper, Alicia Vennos, Jon Klusmire, Alena Nicholas, Trapper Felt, Carol Waller, Christine Osborne, Julie Yost, Crys Black, Nikhil Shahi, Misti Sullivan, Kevin Lennox, Ashley Hollgarth, Jen Heger, Kimberly Kolafa, Julie Kirby, Aditi Das, Jeff Hemming, Erick  Castellon, Shanda Ochs, Jackson Frishman, Cuong Diep, Maddie Noiseaux, Leor Pantilat, Lara Kaylor, Jeff Simpson, Clayton Peoples, Lisa Wilkerson-Willis, Phillip Reedy Ruth Hartman, Charles Porter, Greg Newbry, Elliott McGucken, Jared Smith, Dotty Molt, Sherry Gardner, Jill Dinsmore, Josh Wray, Mike Nellor, Ivan Alo, Pushkar Gejji, Mariusz Jeglinski, Gary Young, Patricia Costa, Lisa May, Laurie Baker, Shuo Li, Dylan Ren, Brian Patterson, David Olden, Gabriel Leete, Jeri Rangel, Jim Beaux, Cory Poole, Walter Gabler, Max Forster, Jim Adams, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Nancy Wright, Bonnie Nordby, Kathy Jonokuchi, Linnea Wahamaki, Sarah Showalter, Vera Haranto Fuad, Jas E Miner, Susan Taylor, Santhakumar V A, Darrell Sano, Frank McDonough, Anson Davalos, Sandy Steinman, Anirudh Natikar, Jennifer “JMel” Mellone and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many hundreds of readers who posted comments and photos to our Facebook page and retweeted our Twitter posts. If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional.  We we are indebted to every color spotter, photographer and commenter. Thank you all.

Additional thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, 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.

This thank you list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has: humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and driven the car and pulled it over to the shoulder, at my whim, so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location.

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

Autumn doesn’t end on Thanksgiving Day. It has 26 more days to go.  We’ll continue to post photos and reports as received and plan a Special Report on San Diego County. Though today, we begin to dial back our reports, posting them less frequently. We also stop sending weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy Thanksgiving Day, and we’ll see you next autumn, dude.

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

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Pies, Pastry, Pack Trips and Pubs… Patchy, too

Patchy aspen at Rock Creek Lake (9/5/14) Alicia Vennos

Patchy aspen at Rock Creek Lake (9/5/14) Alicia Vennos

Mono County Color Spotter Alicia Vennos sends these photos of locations throughout Mono County whose fall color varies from Just Starting to Patchy.  While the color is – at best – patchy, there’s still plenty to do if you prefer pies, pastry, pack trips or pubs.

Rock Creek Lake Resort (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Resort (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Rock Creek
Aspen are beginning to brighten to lime and yellow.  Don’t let the limited color depress you.  Stop by the Rock Creek Lakes Resort for a slice of one of their famous fruit and cream pies. They’ll stay open until Oct. 12.

Convict Lake (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Convict Lake (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Convict Lake
Aspen near the Convict Lake Resort restaurant are a beautiful combination of flickering lime and yellow.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – McGee Creek
The color and elevation are about the same as Rock Creek, brightening to lime and yellow.  Early visitors still have lots to do with hiking, horseback rides and pack trips from the McGee Creek Pack Station and a new bakery at McGee Creek Lodge.  What! More pie?

Just Starting (0 – 10%0 – June Lake
June Lake is a few weeks away from color change, and the color should be glorious when the June Lake Autumn Beer Festival happens on Oct. 11 at Gull Lake Park.  OK, pubs, pies, pastry and peeping.  We’re pumped!

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Lee Vining Canyon/Hwy 120
Still early, though the drive up Hwy 120 to Yosemite National Park’s east entrance is exhilarating.

Greenstone Lake, Twenty Lakes Basin (9/7/14) Alica Vennos

Greenstone Lake, Twenty Lakes Basin (9/7/14) Alica Vennos

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Saddlebag Lake/Tioga Pass
There’s a little color along the shore of Saddlebag Lake.  People often overlook the beauty of ground cover and shrubbery

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Lundy Canyon
This is one of those beautiful places that you have to catch close to peak.  Stay tuned for their reports.

Virginia Lakes (9/1/14) Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes (9/1/14) Carolyn Webb

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Virginia Lakes
Similar to Convict Lake, the Virginia Lakes area is just beginning to show color.  The Aspen near the lakes are deformed by wind and weather and endlessly fascinating.

Conway Summit (9/3/14) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (9/3/14) Alicia Vennos

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Conway Summit
It’s just starting on the north side with a patchy area to the south.

Twin Lakes (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Twin Lakes (9/9/14) Alicia Vennos

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Bridgeport/Green Creek/Twin Lakes

A little yellow high up above Twin Lakes, otherwise still in summer.  Upcoming events:

  • Sept 20 and Oct. 18 – Bodie Foundation Photographer’s Day – photograph Bodie SHP from sunrise to sundown.  To register CLICK HERE.
  • Sept 25 – 28 – Hiking the Valley – Join locals on guided hikes of the Antelope Valley.  CLICK HERE for more info.
  • Oct. 4 – Deer Hunter BBQ – A secret recipe is tasted, but not revealed at the Antelope Valley Community Center. For details, CLICK HERE.
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Patches of Color Appearing in Mono County

Little Lakes Valley Trail (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Little Lakes Valley Trail (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Late summer wildflowers,  Little Lakes Valley Trail (9/1/14)   Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Late summer wildflowers, Little Lakes Valley Trail (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Just Starting – Rock Creek. With nighttime temperatures dipping into the low 40s, color spotter Alicia Vennos says the first hints of color are gracing the aspen of Mono County. Rock Creek is a perennial season leader in this part of the Eastern Sierra.  Though, as of Labor Day (Sept. 1), just a few trees around the Rock Creek Lake area (9800′) were showing patches of color.

Rock Creek Road (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Road (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Along the Little Lakes Valley trail at the end of Rock Creek Road, the lake grass is a gorgeous blend of lime green and gold, and some hardy wildflowers are still hanging on to summer — the contrast with the reddening underbrush is delightful.

Rock Creek Road (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Road (9/1/14) Alicia Vennos/Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Road Construction:  please note that much-needed road improvements — including the addition of a new bicycle lane — are taking place on Rock Creek Road, mid-week/non-holidays, so expect delays. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Just Starting – McGee Creek Canyon

McGee Creek Canyon and Devils Postpile are also reported to be starting to change, again at 0-10%.

June Lake

Plan a visit around the June Lake Autumn Beer Festival, Sat., Oct. 11.  The new June Lake Brewery, which opened in summer, will be joined by several craft brewers for the second annual festival at Gull Lake park.  For more info, CLICK HERE.

Mono County Lodging – For lodging options by community/town and the best deals, visit MonoCounty.org.

New Interactive Map

New for 2014 is the California Fall Color Map seen at left.  This interactive map is exclusive to CaliforniaFallColor.com and provides a quick way to see where the color is changing in California and at what stage.

Non-reporting areas appear in dark green.  All reporting areas have leaves in light green, yellow, orange, red or brown, depending on the fall color’s stage of development. This new scale matches that used by The Weather Channel: Just starting, patchy, near peak, peak and past peak. The colors are based on reports received from volunteer color spotters located throughout California.

Anyone can be a color spotter.  Just email a current report to editor(at)californiafallcolor.com stating where the fall color is seen, at what stage the color is (just starting, patchy, near peak, peak, past peak), your name and – if you have one – a current photograph of what you’re reporting.  We’ll publish the report with credit attributed to you.

Each Thursday morning from the first day of autumn to Thanksgiving Day, we send summaries of each week’s reports to media across California (every TV meteorologist and all travel and outdoor reporters) based on reports received from our network of color spotters.  The best photos could appear, with credit, in newspapers or on TV.

Though no color is yet appearing, our first report this year is from St. Helena in the Napa Valley where Brian Baker of the Chateau Montelena winery notes that an early harvest is expected.  That could mean an earlier show of fall color in the vineyards.

Invisible Rain

Invisible Rain - 8/8/14 - John Poimiroo

Invisible Rain – 8/8/14 – John Poimiroo

Increasingly, since the beginning of August, blue oak leaves have begun appearing on my lawn. I never see them falling and the oaks still seem to be full  of blue-green foliage. It’s an invisible rain.  One day, nothing.  The next, a carpet of dry detritus.

I suppose the oaks are telling me fall is approaching. This is about the time of year (early August) when our color spotters and loyal followers start looking us up, wondering if what they’re seeing is already being reported by us.

The appearance of autumn always happens here or there in mid to late summer… a single tree begins to show flashes of yellow, leaves begin falling and yards become littered as mine has.

The drought seems to have little to do with this though, certainly, lack of water affects foliage and shortens the brilliance or duration of the display.  Still, there will be color change and it will be spectacular in locations throughout the state.  Though, our guess is that some places that were glorious in past years, may be disappointing this year.

One way to know where the color is best, is to keep returning to this site.  Our reporting begins in earnest in September, though if early reports are received we’ll post them.  As in the past, anyone can be a color spotter.  Simply email your report or photo to editor(at)californiafallcolor.com, comment on any of this site’s blogs, tweet to @CalifFallColor, or post on our Facebook page, California Fall Color.

If you’ve searched for us on Google lately, you may have noticed that someone supposedly hacked our site.  As far as we can tell, our site was not hacked.  What was hacked was how Google describes us in search results.  Visiting californiafallcolor.com is entirely safe.  Do not fear visiting californiafallcolor.com or clicking through on Google to it.

Our tech has reset how we describe this site to Google and I’m told it will take Google 30 days to scrub what the hacker inserted and return our listing to its correct description.  The hacking of Google was a senseless, criminal act that had the effect of alarming internet users searching for our site.

More fundamental than our frustration over someone else trying to take advantage of our site’s renown is the question, “Who thinks it’s a good business practice to insert your message in someone else’s promotion?” The hacker got Google to add words promoting purchase of erectile dysfunction medication next to our site’s name and to replace the description of our site in Google with a message to buy pharmaceuticals online, in search results.  However, the hacking was so inept that the hacker failed to provide a link to the pharmaceutical supplier.   Had they identified themselves, we would have sought legal action to prosecute them for trade infringement.

Ah well, on to happier things.  We’re working on a new, interactive California Fall Color Map to appear on the home page that will show where color can be seen in all corners of California.  More about the new map will be reported in our next blog. Regular reports will begin in September, though we will publish any report of fall color emailed to editor(at)californiafallcolor.com.  In the meantime, enjoy the invisible rain.

California Fall Color Looks Back at Autumn, 2013

On the last day of autumn, we look back at some of our favorite photographs of 2013, while expressing thanks to all who contributed photos and reports.

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Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County, Mono County, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, Humboldt County C&VB, and The California Parks Company for making California Fall Color possible. A special nod to Ron Tyler for helping to create this Animoto video.

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Vibrant Fall Colors Enliven Southern California

LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Autumn is “winding down” at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, reports color spotter Frank McDonough, who sends these vibrant photographs.

Tule Pond, LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Tule Pond, LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Pomagranate bush, Japanese maple, Gingko biloba "canopy" (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Pomagranate bush, Japanese maple, Gingko biloba “canopy” (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Mexican marigold, Tagetes lemmonii; Fishtail Ginkgo at the Herb Garden (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Mexican marigold, Tagetes lemmonii; Fishtail Ginkgo at the Herb Garden (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Meadowbrook, LA Co. Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Meadowbrook, LA Co. Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

LA County has, along with most of the far west, experienced very cool nights (around freezing) and clear, sunny days, providing ideal conditions for leaf color development.   Frank writes, “I’m starting to see red leaves on some of the east coast oaks here, and our Diamyo oak (Quercus dentate) just might develop its full color –something that doesn’t happen often.”

The intense colors seen in these photos are the result of an incorrectly balanced white card in Frank’s camera – he apologizes for the mistake – though we find it to be a lovely interpretation and representative of how many California impressionists painted California landscapes.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Los Angeles County – This a spectacular time to see naturally decorated trees, during the holidays, at the LA County Arboretum.