California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Posts Tagged ‘California Fall Color’

California Fall Color Looks Back at 2015

Thu ,26/11/2015

On this Thanksgiving Day, 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 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!

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

Wed ,10/09/2014
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.

Patches of Color Appearing in Mono County

Tue ,02/09/2014
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

New Interactive Map

Tue ,12/08/2014

New for 2014 is the California Fall Color Map seen at left.  This interactive map is exclusive to 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) 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

Fri ,08/08/2014
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), 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 is entirely safe.  Do not fear visiting 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)  In the meantime, enjoy the invisible rain.

California Fall Color Looks Back at Autumn, 2013

Fri ,20/12/2013

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.

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.

Vibrant Fall Colors Enliven Southern California

Thu ,12/12/2013
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.

Berkeley Birders Searching for “Painted Redstart” Find Fall Color

Tue ,03/12/2013

Color spotter Sandy Steinman started yesterday looking for a rare bird, the Painted Redstart which normally lives in Arizona, eastern New Mexico and northern Mexico. It had somehow winged its way north to matriculate near Berkeley and ended up itself being studied by Redstart-fevered birders. Steinman never was sure he saw the bird (perhaps a glimpse), though ended up taking these shots of spots of remaining fall color along Berkeley’s streets.

Berkeley (12/1/13) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/13) Sandy Steinman

Past Peak – Berkeley – Spots of color can still be seen with some trees not fully turned.  The most exciting spot of fall color is the red, black and white Painted Redstart seen flitting through Berkeley’s urban forest. A cold front will push through Northern California, beginning today, perhaps urging the Redstart to head back to Mexico and with days expected to be cold, chilling further prospects for color development in Berkeley and forcing global warming protestors from the steps of Sproul Hall to warm themselves, indoors.

Giving Thanks

Thu ,28/11/2013
Mammoth Creek, Sunday Evening (10/13/13) Susan Morning

Mammoth Creek, Sunday Evening (10/13/13) Susan Morning

Each year on Thanksgiving Day, California Fall Color gives thanks to the nearly 60 color spotters and photographers who provided reports.

Convict Lake (10/7/13) Susan Morning

Convict Lake (10/7/13) Susan Morning

The following individuals contributed reports and photographs to this blog this year: Richard McCutcheon, Jared Smith, Krisdina Karady, Christie Osborne, Leanne K, Alicia Vennos, Jon Klusmire, Donna Mercer, Zach Behrens, Carolyn Webb, Ethan James, ShaleAnn Cluff, Susan Morning, Bart Godett, Shae Garrett, Dave McKernan, Jeff Simpson, Rick E Martin, Grace Smith, Laurie Baker, Michael Frye, Susan Johnson, Sandy Steinman, Michael Han, Dotty Molt, Roy Kennedy, Adam Nilsson-Weiskott, Jaganath Achari, Peter Chun, Rachel Jackson, Karen Moritz, Jeff Titcomb, Charlene Burge, Nina Sazevich, Barbara Steinberg, Dave Kingman, Aki Yamakawa, Vijay Sridhar, Phoebe Chuason, Brian Reilly, Grant Roden, Jerry Steffen, Kimberly Kolafa, Daniel Rosenthal, Jim Beau, Linnea Wahamaki, Steve Wolfe, Lisa Wilkerson-Willis, Susan Taylor, Edina Ingram, Stephany Fernandez, Ralph Lockhart, Frank McDonough, Anissa Granados, Son H. Nguyen, Liliana Navia and Mathias van Hesemans.

North Lake Road, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/2/13) Krisdina Karady

North Lake Road, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/2/13) Krisdina Karady

Without question, many others contributed, as well.  For those who we overlooked or did not know, please know that we are indebted to each of you for your efforts, talents, attentiveness and generosity in providing others reports on what you witnessed. This list is incomplete without including Joan, my wife, who has humored my recording color percentages, species and elevations as we would travel here and there and – more importantly – point out particularly beautiful color on our travels across California.  Every person should have so dear and understanding a friend, companion and lover.

Aspen Grove, San Bernardino National Forest (10/12/13) Lisa Wilkerson-Willis

Aspen Grove, San Bernardino National Forest (10/12/13) Lisa Wilkerson-Willis

Special thanks are also expressed to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.  And, of course to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed and contributed to this site, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.  You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Our first “fall color report” was published on August 1, 43 days earlier than we reported, last year, and the first GO NOW! alert was reported on September 9, a full week before the first report was made, last year.  The first full peak was reported on Sept. 19, days before the Autumnal Equinox.

Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek (8/1/13) Richard McCutcheon

Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek (8/1/13) Richard McCutcheon

Yes, this was one of the earliest shows of fall color that we’ve reported in the five years has existed.  It’s impossible to measure one year against another.  We’ll let you judge the photos contributed by color spotters and photographers.  Though, more photos posted on California Fall Color were recognized by major media this year, than in any previous year.

We fully expect to continue to receive fall color reports in December, particularly from Southern California, confirming our claim that California has the longest and most varied season of autumn color in North America. California quite possibly holds the world record for the duration of its autumn show.  It doesn’t peak over a couple of weeks here, it peaks across four to five months.

Temecula Wine Country (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Temecula Wine Country (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Further, as one of the few Mediterranean climate regions on Earth, California is able to grow a variety of colorful foliage that provides a spectacle unmatched anywhere.  Our urban forests can be as spectacular as the national forests. The variety of foliage here, combined with California’s varied terrain, climates and elevations combines to make our fall color the most varied and long-lasting for leaf peepers, photographers and nature lovers. Doubting Thomases need only click through any year on the archive, at left, to see the progression of color across The Golden State.

Black Oak, Mt. Laguna, San Diego County (10/19/13) Charlene Bruge

Black Oak, Mt. Laguna, San Diego County (10/19/13) Charlene Bruge

The change of color this autumn was particularly impressive.  We received reports from those traditional places, well-known for their impressive displays (e.g., Bishop Creek Canyon, the June Lake Loop, Plumas County), but also from places that hadn’t reported previously (e.g., Big Bear, Mt Laguna, Mt Palomar).

For future reference, anyone can be a color spotter.  Should you see great fall color, email a cell phone picture to editor(at)  Include a caption stating when the picture was taken, where the photo was taken, what type of foliage is seen in the photo (if you know it) and your name.  We’ll post the photo and recognize you.  The best photos, each week, are shared with media and often appear (with credit) on TV weather reports and in newspapers across California.

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Presently, there’s still beautiful fall color to be seen and enjoyed.  It’s mostly showing  in the state’s urban forests (San Francisco, the San Francisco Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay, its vineyards, the Gold Country, Central Coast and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties).  And, it hasn’t ended; spots of fall color will warm the winter landscape well into December.

So, will continue to report it as we receive reports.  Though, as of today we will stop sending weekly updates and photographs to California meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers for what’s left of fall 2013.  Until next autumn, keep looking for California’s Fall Color.

75 – 100% – California – In my heart, it is always peaking.

It Blew Right Past

Mon ,25/11/2013

“It blew right past,” seems an appropriate description for today’s California Fall Color report, as just like a California street rod, this past week’s blustery weather blew right past.

While the wind storm was here, it blew away most of what remained of turned color in the Shasta Cascade, Sierra foothills and northern Central Valley.  Reports were similarly received from Southern California, though the wind is not expected to have appreciably changed the show down south, as color develops in spurts there and will continue to show into December.

The grand show of color in northern California’s urban forests is now gone with the wind, having tumbled away in the breezes, revealing bare branches on towering London Plane Tree and elms.  Blue oaks continue to carry halos of buff-orange leaves, though that color has been reduced in intensity.  Likewise, Cottonwood have lost a lot of their luster, though neighboring wetlands are identified by their glow.

Fall color will continue to brighten urban areas during Thanksgiving Day week.