Such a Deal!

Parcher's Resort (10/11/12) Krisdina Karady

Parcher’s Resort (10/11/12) Krisdina Karady

A great place to base fall color viewing trips in Bishop Creek Canyon is Parcher’s Resort.  Not only is their staff the most knowledgeable about where the best fall color viewing can be found, but the resort offers all sorts of deals in autumn.  Here’s this fall’s list:

  • Fall RV Special – Stay 5 nights at regular price get 2 more nights FREE in any RV site from September 20th through October 19th
  • Mountain Cabin Weekly Special – Beginning Sept. 1st Stay 5 nights in Cabin 21, 22 or 23 and get 2 more nights FREE and one breakfast voucher for up to 4 persons!
  • Photographers Retreat – Rent 6 or more Cabins for at least 3 nights and get 10% off your stay and complimentary use of our store meeting facility from 11am til 6pm daily and 25% off a private dinner in our dining room (12 persons minimum). Offer valid September 15th through October 15th
  • Hiker’s Heaven – Stay 3 nights in any Hiker Cabin between Sept. 1st and October 19th, and get your 4th night FREE.

Call 760-873-4177 to take advantage of these special deals.

At left is a photo taken of Parcher’s last October, following an early dusting of snow.


Mono County Peaking at Upper Elevations – Go Now!

Mono County color spotter Ethan James reports autumn is “in full-swing” well before its official first day (Sun., June 22).  And, with cool weather forecast, the color will intensify and pockets of peak color will exist for the next three weeks.  Because of this, we are issuing three GO NOW! alerts for Mono County.

15 – 30% – Lower Rock Creek Road – James estimates the of the road to be at 25% with some gold, yellow, lime green and orange emerging.  As previously reported, Pie in the Sky Café at the Rock Creek Lake Resort plans to remain  open until October 13,  serving their world-famous pies, freshly baked from scratch every day.

Rock Creek Lake (9/17/13)

Rock Creek Lake (9/18/13) © Ethan James

Rock Creek Canyon (9/17/13) ©

Rock Creek Canyon (9/18/13) © Ethan James

GO NOW! – 50- 75% – Upper Rock Creek Road – The upper reaches of Rock Creek Road, including around Rock Creek Lake are “quite breathtaking with beautiful red, orange and gold aspen.”

0 – 15% – Convict Lake – Charles reporting from the Convict Lake Resort says “It’s still early for significant color in the canyon. There is just a scattering of yellow as you drive up to Convict Lake.”  The Convict Lake Resort is offering Fall Lodging Specials starting at $379+tax (Sunday thru Thursday – 2 Nights for 2 Persons).  Includes $100 Restaurant Credit & Full Day Motor Boat Rental.  Convict Lake’s annual fall fishing derby, “Ambush at the Lake” is happening now through Nov. 15, with $6,000 in resort prizes.  A $2,000 Cash Bonus Weekend occurs Nov. 1-3.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – The Sherwins (Mammoth Lakes) – The Sherwins above 8,500′ are peaking.

15 – 30% – Mammoth Lakes – Spots of color are to be seen in the Town of Mammoth Lakes, though peak is still two weeks away.

Parker Lake (9/17/13) Donna Mercer

Parker Lake (9/17/13) © Donna Mercer

Parker Lake (9/17/13) Donna Mercer

Parker Lake (9/17/13) © Donna Mercer

Quaking Aspen, Parker Lake (9/17/13) Donna Mercer

Quaking Aspen, Parker Lake (9/17/13) © Donna Mercer

0 – 15% – Parker Lake – Color spotter Donna Mercer hiked to Parker Lake off the June Lake Loop on 9/17 and says that the colors on the trail and at the lake itself are still mostly bright lime-green with some gold, yellow and random splotches of orange.

15 – 30% – June Lake Loop – This magnificent drive (Hwy. 158) is showing signs of color, especially at higher elevations, but still has a long way to go.  It should be glorious during June Lake’s Autumn Beer Festival on October 5 at Gull Lake Park.

Virginia Lakes Road (9/13/13) Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes Road (9/13/13) © Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes Road (9/13/13) Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes Road (9/13/13) © Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes (9/13/13) © Carolyn Webb

Virginia Lakes (9/13/13) © Carolyn Webb

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Virginia Lakes – Color spotter Carolyn Webb recommends driving up the Virginia Lakes Road for displays of  vibrant colors

0 – 15% – Conway Summit – Still  mostly lime-green.

The new edition of the Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide & Map is now in.  Call 800-845-7922 for a FREE copy or request one on-line at  



KCET Reports from Bishop Creek Canyon

South Lake Road, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/13) © Zach Behrens/KCET

South Lake Road, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/17/13) © Zach Behrens/KCET

Zach Behrens of KCET is another of the growing legion of fall color enthusiasts turning up, across California.  CLICK HERE TO see the report Zach posted today on KCET’s site.  His photo of changing trees along South Lake Road depicts the layered change of color to be seen there, right now.



Early Peak Approaching in Eastern Sierra

Spots of color above 8,500′ in elevation are trending toward one of the earliest peaks seen in the Eastern Sierra in recent years. Yesterday, we reported that The Sherwins (Mammoth Lakes) above 8,500 were showing 30 – 50% color.  Today, Jared Smith of Parcher’s Resort is reporting some areas of Bishop Creek Canyon already “well above 50%”, including our first Go Now! declarations for Sabrina Campground and Surveyor’s Meadow.  Here’s his full report (9/11/13).

Overall Conditions above 8,500 ft  
30 – 50% – Lots of green still around but many of the higher elevation areas are now showing a lot of color. A little orange and red but most of the color showing is brilliant yellow and gold. Although most of the aspens along the road are still totally green, the hillsides in the higher reaches of the canyon are really looking impressive.  Some areas, surveyors meadow for example, is actually well above 50% of peak color.

Overall Conditions below 8,500 ft

Not much going on yet below 8,500 ft, but there are some little pockets of color developing. We’ve still got another couple weeks before these areas will be in full color.

Location Specific Reports

15-30% – South Lake Rd above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600 ft) – While this area is not in full color and the aspens along the creek are still green, the view up canyon is spectacular and the groves to the east are really lighting up.

0-15% – Mountain Glen Campground (8,400 ft) – Just a handful of aspens turning here with most of the foliage still dark or lime green.

0-15% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350f t) –  Not much going on here yet, just a few trees starting to turn.

Groves Above Cardinal Village (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Groves Above Cardinal Village (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

15 – 30% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell    (8,550 ft) –  Just enough yellow showing to be noteworthy but this area still has a ways to go before the color really starts popping.

Sabrina Campground (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Sabrina Campground (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Sabrina Campground (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Sabrina Campground (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

50-75% – Sabrina Campground (9,000 ft) Go Now! – As expected, the groves along the road near Sabrina Campground are the first to near peak color. Plenty of orange, yellow and some read showing along with brilliant lime green.  I would expect this area to peak in the next 10 days if not sooner and the grove inside the campground to be a little behind that.

0-15% – Forks Campground (8,000 ft – 8,300 ft) – No color at all developing here yet.

0-15% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900 ft) –  Not much color showing yet.

Surveyor's Meadow (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Surveyor’s Meadow (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

50 – 75% – Surveyors Meadow (8,975 ft) Go Now! – The aspen above Surveyors Meadow are really lighting up in all directions. The lower aspen along the creek are still mostly green but there is a ton of color on all of the surrounding hillsides.

15 – 30% – Willow Campground (9,100 ft) – The view up canyon from Willow Camp has lots of turning aspen but the majority of the aspen surrounding the campground are still very green. The best color is just past the camp on your right where there are a few dozen trees in full color. Just below the camp near the Tyee Trailhead also has several trees showing color.

30 – 50% – Parchers Camp – Lots of color developing in and around Parchers Camp. Especially brilliant are the hillsides to the east and west of the resort. Still plenty of aspen yet to change but its progressing nicely. The trail from Parchers to Willow is also turning nicely.

Weir Pond (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

Weir Pond (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady

15-30% – Weir Pond (9,700 ft) – The grove above the pond is really turning yellow while the lower aspen surrounding the Weir still have yet to turn except for a few small branches here and there.

15 – 30% – Lake Sabrina (9,150 ft) – Still a ways to go here but there is quite a bit of color developing around what’s left of the lake. This location will be a little harder to find good photos this year with the water level being so low. Look for the groves below the dam to be one of the best places to capture color when it develops.

North Lake (9/11

North Lake (9/11/13) © Krisdina Karady


15-30% – North Lake (9,255 ft) – The groves above the lake area starting to turn nicely but the majority of the aspen are still green including the aspen along the creek and along the road. The most intense color is just below the lake along the road where some nice read and orange is visible.Closer to 15% than 30%, there is still a ways to go for full color.


The Sherwins Color Up Above Mammoth Lakes

The Sherwins, Mammoth Lakes; Christie Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

The Sherwins, Mammoth Lakes; Christie Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

Seeing is believing!  A week before the first day of autumn, color spotters are reporting 30 – 50% change at high elevations surrounding Mammoth Lakes.

The Sherwins, Mammoth Lakes; Christie Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

The Sherwins, Mammoth Lakes; Christie Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

Color spotter Christie Osborne reports that, “The Sherwins above Snowcreek golf course in Mammoth Lakes are showing some fine color at approximately 8,500 feet. Lower, at the 7,500-8,000 foot level just the first hints of color are starting to show, but there is mostly little or no color in town. Fall dessert flowers are also blooming with a show of purple and gold.”

Color spotter Leanne K comments, “… just got back from a long weekend in Mammoth. The high meadows like Agnew, Crater and the meadow between Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake were already gold. The willows and grasses were beautiful in the blue sky. No smoke from the fires. The aspen trees were definitely getting lime and some had begun to change to yellow. It seems like it is a bit early, but really does feel like fall. Other low growing type plants were beginning to yellow.”  Leanne wasn’t sure how to assign a %, though Christie suggests:

Mammoth Lakes
0 – 15% in town at approximately 7,500 feet. Some yellow green.
30 – 50% in the Lakes Basin near Twin Lakes at approximately 8500 feet.
30-50% above approximately 8,500 feet along slopes on the Sherwin Mountain Range.

Note: the 30 – 50% evaluation is for high areas in The Sherwins, above 8,500′.  There’s still lots and lots of time to see great color at Mammoth Lakes and in the Eastern Sierra.

Only in California - wildflowers blooming in autumn; Christie  Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

Only in California – wildflowers blooming in autumn; Christie Osborne; © Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 9/11/13

California Fall Color in 3-D

Put on 3-D glasses to watch this fun YouTube video by Jim Carbonetti.  It’ll come right at ya.

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For Joy! California Color Reports Are Streaming In

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

We’re getting lots of great reports from color spotters all over California about the great early color being seen.  In the comments section are reports from Ben who writes, “There is a ton of fall color in Berkeley right now. Does that count?”  You bet it does, Ben.

We report all color, whether native or exotic.  Like we reported at the beginning of August, the color started appearing then.  Ben is seeing “Lots of red on the sweetgums, the Japanese maples are turning, yellow on pistache, yellow gingkos…” even “the big leaf maples are already turning yellow in the City and in the Berkeley Hills/Tilden Park. Lots of red in Tilden park in bushes…” surprise, surprise even some “Black oaks started showing some color about 2 weeks ago.”

Rebecca reports she regularly visits the site (apologies to all you California Fall Color fanatics who missed our reports during those other seasons) and repeats what Ben’s seeing… pistaches turning early, some maples are green and red with not a lot of yellow.  She visited Carmel this past weekend and found maples turning there, as well.  A lot of you out there are finding the early change to be unexpected.  We haven’t seen it this early, but then early shows have never meant a less spectacular fall.

Esther reports back from Aspendell (Eastern Sierra) where she was painting landscapes en pleine air  and was shocked by the “yellow Aspen leaves on the ground already after a windy night. I took a few home in a notebook. I was just trying to plan a fall weekend to go back up there. Looks like I better plan it for early to mid October.”

Then reporting yesterday was reliable color spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort in the Bishop Creek Canyon (Eastern Sierra) who provides the first full report of the year (see below).  If Jared is reporting this early, we’re full on.

For your review, here’s how we report color change.  It’s easy to become a California Fall Color Spotter, just email your report to us at editor(at)  We love getting photos (the best photo of each location is all we can publish – great photos get sent to TV weather reporters across California).

We use a scale to identify the percentage of color for a given location.  This is the same scale used by The Weather Channel:

0 – 15% – Little to no color change, some lime or yellow may appear.  (Note: we include lime as color change, even though it’s yellow-green.

15 – 30% – Still mostly green though up to a third of the forest is showing lime and other colors (yellow, orange, red).

30 – 50% – Approaching half the forest is showing (lime, yellow, red, orange, pink), though half the forest remains green.

50 – 75% – Solid color change – lots of yellow, orange or red, some lime, less than 25% of the trees are green – At 50% we’ll report GO NOW!

75 – 100% – As good as it gets, this is full peak – We continue to report GO NOW!

Past Peak – Most of the leaves have blown off or turned brown or are discolored.  Still, we like to receive past peak reports, as they help identify elevation levels that are changing.

Color change can happen quickly, so be prepared to travel if the color is approaching 50%.  If you follow our reports, you’ll be able to see at what elevations color is appearing.  That will help you plan a trip.

Native trees tend to change at the same time by elevation.  Exotic trees (those not native to California) change at different times.  Individual trees may turn early or late, so they’re not as predictable as those native to California.  OK, now that you’ve had a refresher, here’s the first full report from the Eastern Sierra, though Richard McCutcheon gets the nod for sending the first report of color (Aug. 1) of an Indian Rhubarb flushing orangy-red along Butt Creek (Plumas County).


Color spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort is reporting an early show of yellow among the aspen and writes, “we figured we’d get the show on the road as it were.”  Jared plans to supply reports each week beginning in September and twice a week, if time permits, Sept. 15 – Oct. 20.  We will say, after seeing his reports and photographs, if you’ve not seen autumn in the Eastern Sierra, it is one of California’s great foliage shows and should be on your life’s list.

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Overall Conditions above 8500′

0-15% –   Still mostly green but there are just a handful of little pockets where some bright yellow can be seen. The willows are starting to lighten considerably.

Overall Conditions below 8500′

0 – 15%   –     Still mostly green but one can see the hue changing from dark to lime green has begun.

Location-specific Reports

0-15% – South Lake Rd above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft)

0-15% – Mountain Glen Campground (8400ft).

0-15% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft)

0-15% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell    (8550ft)

0-15%% – Forks Campground (8000ft – 8300ft)

0-15% – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft)

0-15% – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft)

0-15% – Willow Campground (9100ft)

0-15% – Lake Sabrina (9150ft)

0-15% – North Lake (9255ft)


Early Color

Chinese Pistache - 2013 John Poimiroo

Chinese Pistache – 2013 John Poimiroo

Something odd is happening.

Early color is not unusual, but Indian Rhubarb showing in Plumas County (4,500′), Chinese Pistache showing in El Dorado County (800′), Fremont Cottonwood coloring up in Folsom wetlands (Sacramento County) and Quaking Aspen showing in Inyo County (5,000′) at the same time?  That’s unusual.

Quaking Aspen - 2013 Zach Behrens

Quaking Aspen – 2013 Zach Behrens

Last winter was unusually dry.  A dry winter often translates into earlier color (at least as far as we’ve noticed in past years).

We think naturalists and scientists might say “hogwash.”  But then we don’t pretend to be naturalists or scientists at California Fall Color, just observers of color change in the Golden State.

What are you seeing where you live and travel?

0 – 15% – Showing early color in the northern Sierra, eastern Sierra, Gold Country and Sierra foothills (exotic).

, ,

Who’s On First

Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek - © Richard McCutcheon, 2013

Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek – © Richard McCutcheon, 2013

Color spotter Richard McCutcheon sends this lovely spot of color seen yesterday in Butt Creek (Plumas County) and reports, “Could not believe it on Aug 1st, Indian Ruhbarb turned on Butt Creek.”

0 – 15% – Plumas County – Earning honors for the first report of autumn (at the beginning of August), Richard McCutcheon reports a hint of the glory to come now appearing along High Sierra streams.

A Video Look At 2012

On the final day of autumn, we remember some of the fabulous photographs provided to us by California Fall Color spotters in 2012, and express our thanks to all who contributed to or carried our reports.

Special thanks to Inyo County, Mono County, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and The California Parks Company for making California Fall Color possible and to Ron Tyler for creating this video.

Past Peak – California.

See you next autumn.