As the last of the aspen drop leaves up Bishop Creek Canyon, we received these images today from Yin You and Jim Hemming’s video of his recent visits to the Eastern Sierra. CLICK HERE.
Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Sierra’
Travel writer and photographer Lee Foster provides his perspectives on fall color viewing in the Eastern Sierra in his blog, FosterTravel.com. To read Lee’s article, CLICK HERE.
Keith Lake flies over the Eastern Sierra in these videos of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop Creek Canyon, posted last week.
Color spotter Steve Wolfe reports from the Eastern Sierra that this weekend was glorious, though he worries that wind predicted for tomorrow will strip what little is left in Bishop Creek Canyon.
Steve was at Aspendell today and caught these lovely images. He notes, as Jared Smith did last week, that the area around Aspendell is both at peak and past peak, though on the main road through Aspendell there’s still green among the aspen, meaning that color change will continue to develop for a week or two.
It’s a mix of patchy color with yellow, orange and leafless stands. The color is lasting a week longer than usual. “Even around the tiny burg of South Fork Bishop Creek there are pockets of bright yellow aspen with this photo taken about a mile up the road.” If you’re in the area, GO NOW! As, Monday’s wind will likely strip what color remains.
“Two days of wind was all it took to strip the vast majority of aspen in the higher reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon,” color spotter Jared Smith writes on his last report of autumn. Parchers Resort closes for the season on Sunday (Oct. 19) and with its shuttering, Jared’s reports come to a close. He’s always the most diligent of the contributors to this blog, with accurate and thorough reports that have guided photographers, leaf peepers and travelers to the Eastern Sierra. It has become a tradition here to thank him for his beautiful photographs and helpful commentary. Here’s what he had to write, today:
Overall Conditions – Above 8,500′ Elevation – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Overall, the weather this past month has been exceptional, so Jared wrote he wouldn’t complain for the sudden end of the show up Bishop Creek Canyon. This year, there was ample time for folks to see the color and get some beautiful shots. With Sabrina, North Lake, Sabrina Camp, Parchers Resort and Willow Camp almost completely stripped of leaves, there’s not much left to be seen in the higher reaches of the canyon.
Overall Conditions – Between 7,500 and 8,500′ Elevation – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
While a few areas still have some beautiful color, most notably Intake II, Aspendell and the Four Jeffries area, much of the color on either side of the canyon is past peak and/or stripped because of the last two days of wind.
Parcher’s Resort (9,260′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few small pockets of color persist in and around the resort.
Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Still some decent color in this area but we’re definitely past the peak color.
Mist Falls and the Groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The wind was especially harsh in this area and what was at peak color over the weekend is now mostly gone. Only a fraction of the grove is showing brilliant color but it’s still worth a look.
Aspendell (8,400′) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
The trees in this neighborhood seem to have withstood the wind storm quite well and there is a ton of color along Hwy 168 both before and after the small community. The area leading up to Cardinal Village is also looking brilliant.
Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few pockets of color is left above Cardinal.
Four Jeffries (8,000) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
Some of the smaller scrub aspen have already peaked and dropped but the larger trees are just now showing peak color. There is actually a fair amount of green still holding strong so it’s feasible that we may get another full week of color out of this area if the weather cooperates.
Intake II (8,000) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
This area is just on the verge of passing the peak color mark but there is certainly enough beautiful orange and yellow to garner a peak color rating. Especially beautiful is the grove above the lake in the campground.
Willow Campground (9,000′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Very little color survived the wind.
Big Trees Campground (7,800′) – Patchy – (10 – 50%)
We’re really not seeing much color develop here, just some lime green. The trees here don’t look particularly healthy with some of the foliage turning from light green to brown without any yellow – perhaps the drought was just too much for the trees down there.
Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Some patchy color is still hanging around near the back of the campground but most of the color along the road is gone.
Surveyors Meadow (8,975′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few tiny patches of yellow are left.
Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The fall color show is over up at Lake Sabrina with just a few select trees here and there showing any color.
North Lake (9,255′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The wind didn’t leave much color unfortunately.
Weir Pond (9,650) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
No color is left at Weir.
Sabrina Campground (9,000′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
All of the color was stripped by the wind unfortunately.
With Jared’s final report, conditions up Bishop Creek Canyon will no longer be reported. They, too, are now gone with the wind. However, reports move up to June Lake and the Shasta Cascade and down Southern California.
“Crazy Good” is how color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort describes fall color conditions between 7,500 and 8,500’ elevation this week. Though, above 8,500’, if you weren’t there this past weekend, you missed one of the most spectacular shows of fall color, ever.
The upper reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon have now dropped much of their leaves, though a few areas still have very beautiful, but also very fragile color.
Peak has moved down to areas like the lower Bishop Creek Canyon, June Lake Loop, Hope Valley and Lake Tahoe.
What we’ve noticed to be consistent this autumn is that once color begins to change at a given elevation, it happens quickly. We had some areas as Just Starting last week, but within days they progressed to full peak.
EASTERN SIERRA – BISHOP CREEK CANYON
Overall Conditions Above 8,500′ Elevation – Peak (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
Jared Smith from Parchers Resort reports that this past week was incredible for fall color, especially last weekend which exhibited an absolute peak at North Lake and Lake Sabrina. An impressive number of weekend visitors traveled to Bishop Creek Canyon for the show. Several areas above 8,500’ still have color yet to develop, though many trees have now lost their leaves.
Because some of the more popular locations in the higher reaches of the canyon like Weir Pond, North Lake and Surveyor’s Meadows were better a week ago, Jared has rated them as Past Peak. Still, there are still lots of postcard quality views above 8,500’ on both sides of the canyon, most notably the groves near and above Parchers Resort, the North Lake Road, the old road between Willow Campground and Parchers, and the Cardinal Mine area which are still at peak color.
Even as much of the color on the mountain slopes has faded or is fading, the aspen along South Lake Road, and both the middle and south forks of Bishop Creek have exploded into full color making for an incredibly scenic drive.
Overall Conditions Between 7,500’ and 8,500′ Elevation – Patchy (10 – 50%)
The difference between this week and last was stunning, especially between the 8,000’ and 8,500’ elevation, where last week’s lime green and patchy yellow turned to brilliant yellow and orange with touches of rosy red.
Jared says it was wonderful to see that for each location passing the peak color mark, a new area in the canyon seemed to turn brilliant and show peak or near peak color to replace it.
Some of the more famous views in the canyon, including Mist Falls and the view up canyon from Aspendell are now showing peak color providing visiting photographers and painters with as much fall color as they could possibly need to inspire their artistic spirit.
With a favorable forecast through the weekend, we’re expecting one more week of crazy good color to enjoy. Jared rates the overall conditions in this elevation range right at 75% of peak. Here’s Jared Smith’s report:
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Weir Pond (9,650′)
The canyon wall above the pond is pretty well stripped of color now and even the aspen behind the pond have faded. There are still some brilliant aspen in full fall splendor along either side of South Lake Road but this location certainly isn’t as beautiful as it was last week at this time.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Parchers Camp (9,260′)
Somehow the color around the resort has really held on strong with lots of peak color, mostly yellow and orange, especially on the mountainside to the north of the resort. Some gorgeous old growth aspen behind the resort and along Green Creek are showing some of the brightest and purest yellows in the canyon making for some wonderful forest views. Also noteworthy is the old road along the So. Fork Bishop Creek that flows between the resort and Willow Campground. The sheer granite cliffs have some awesome red shrubbery adding a unique contrast to some of the yellow aspen clinging to the rock. There are also some tremendously large trees which provide a rather awe inspiring canopy to those who wander down from Parchers or up from Willow.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Willow Campground (9,000′)
The aspen along the road around the campground, and to a large degree the aspen within the campground, have past their peak and begun to lose their leaves for the season. Still, some excellent opportunities for color can be found by parking on the shoulder or in front of the gate to the campground and walking up the old road. Some gorgeous yellow and rosy red groves can be found just above the campground and the slow moving stream in this area makes for some gorgeous reflections if you can find the right angle and light. This area is no longer on the must-see list, but it’s certainly worth a stop and on the should-see list.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Lake Sabrina (9,150′)
As incredibly gorgeous as the color still is at Lake Sabrina, the peak color around the reservoir was probably late last week, at least to Jared’s eye. Much of the color has faded or disappeared altogether from the east shore with the best color, especially some seriously bright orange and touches of red, near the back of the lake and all along the inlet stream at the very south end of the lake. The first pond just below the dam and the road from there up to the boat landing is an area that is still showing peak color, and in my opinion is still a must-see for anyone visiting the canyon.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Sabrina Campground (9,000′)
There is still some color hanging around in the campground and along Hwy 168 above the campground but this area was certainly better late last week than what we’re seeing now. Many of the trees have already shed their leaves and most of the yellow aspen are exhibiting some brown spotting, a sure sign that the leaves won’t be around much longer. There are still some wonderful views along the slow meandering stream but it will probably be over by week’s end.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Table Mountain Camp (8,900′)
The groves just below the campground are now mostly kaput but some exceptional color can still be found by walking into the campground itself. The forest floor is littered with soft yellow aspen leaves and the groves across the meadow to the south are still brilliant and just now peaking so there are at least a few great shots to be taken here, even if the color is past peak.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Surveyors Meadow (8,975’)
There is still a lot of color in this area but even so, its past peak. The group of about 20 painters hit the peak on Saturday and we’ve seen a slight decline in the amount of color here each day since. Plenty of yellow and orange can still be viewed, especially along the stream just above the meadow. The aspen on the left side of the road are also showing peak color.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Big Trees Campground (7,800’)
Nothing terribly impressive happening down below the South Lake turnoff yet but we’ll keep an eye on it.
Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – North Lake (9,255′)
North Lake is another must-see location even though it isn’t quite as amazing as it was last week. Especially impressive is the color along the north shore of the lake and along the dirt road. There is also quite a bit of color to the left of the road near the campground gate (which is now closed).
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′)
While there is one short stretch of stream where the aspens have dropped their leaves, the majority of the color between Mt. Glen Campground and the end of the Stiny Loop is simply gorgeous with lots of yellow and orange. This old dirt road is especially beautiful in the afternoon as the backlit aspen shimmer brilliantly.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′)
It doesn’t get any better than what we’re seeing this week down near Mist Falls. The groves from Bishop Creek Lodge all the way up to Mt. Glen Campground are incredibly bright. There is a bit of lime green still yet to turn but for me this contrast of colors makes for an even better view. This week is the week if you want your own photo of this iconic waterfall.
GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Aspendell (8,400′)
While there is still some green hanging tough within the small community, there is near peak color both just above and below the homes making for some gorgeous views. This area is absolutely worth a stop when visiting the canyon.
GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550′)
The scrub aspen on the canyon wall just below Cardinal Pinnacle are mostly gone now but the most brilliant color and the densest groves of aspen are all along the middle fork Bishop Creek from just below Sabrina Campground all the way down past Cardinal Village Resort. This is one of Jared’s all-time favorite views in the Eastern Sierra and it just doesn’t look much better than it does right now.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Four Jeffries (8,000′)
Some really nice color is developing along the So. Fork Bishop Creek in this area, especially between the campground and Bishop Creek Lodge. One stand of aspen is especially impressive showing some really bright red hues. Jared expects this area to peak in the next 7 days if the weather stays favorable.
GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Intake II (8,000′)
This is probably the best color Jared reports seeing at this small lake, especially between the upper campground and the lake. Some pretty impressive red is showing, along with bright yellow and some nice orange hues too. There is a sprinkling of green among the turning aspen making for some really cool reflection shots early in the morning.
Wind : 6.5 knots
Humidity : 18%
- Saturday Today 38 - 75 °F
- Sunday Tomorrow 36 - 73 °F
It’s been there all along. We just never got a fall color report or saw photos of Big Pine Creek Canyon until Scott Turner visited this past weekend.
GO NOW! – Peak (75 – 100%) Big Pine Creek Canyon - This hidden gem lies west of the town of Big Pine in the Eastern Sierra (not to be confused with Pine Creek Canyon, between Bishop Creek and Rock Creek). Scott wrote, “I wasn’t expecting much here, but I was fairly blown away. South Fork Canyon is about 50%. Along the North Fork Trail, the color is patchy until just past the second waterfall, at which point there’s a glorious grove of aspen trees at 100% peak. Every color represented. Probably the best color I saw all weekend. Getting all the way back to Second lake, with its aquamarine waters, added nicely to the color below.”
Scott plans a write up about the trail to appear in ModernHiker.com. He mentions Big Pine Creek is popular among rock climbers and backpackers to gain access to Palisade Glacier. Somehow it got overlooked as a location with compelling fall color.
Now, with Scott Turner’s report of fall color up Big Pine Creek, we challenge color spotters to be the first to send photographs of color up these other Eastern Sierra canyons: Whitney Portal Rd, Onion Valley Rd, Oak Creek Rd or Pine Creek Rd.
Color spotter Steve Wolfe is back chasing fall colors in the Eastern Sierra. Steve’s photography appeared last autumn on this blog and he’s back in the eastern Sierra scouting foliage from Big Pine to just below Bridgeport to the north.
Steve reports what we believe is happening, that the quaking aspen are further along than last year and turning faster. We noticed that the appearance of color was about what it was last year, but that the progression of color has been much faster. That is, areas are appearing to change about as they did this time last year, but once they get to Patchy, the progression through Near Peak to Peak is rapid.
That means, you have to be ready to go when we’re reporting Patchy color and certainly, once we report Near Peak, as our reports can be received a day or two after the photograph was taken. California Fall Color always shows date-marked photographs, so you know what’s happening now. We rarely will publish a photo older than a week and then only when it is clearly marked as to the date it was taken.
Steve notes, he believes the color “isn’t as uniform as 2013; there are still patches of green above 9000 feet mixed in with the russets and golds.” He notes that cottonwoods and willows seem to be progressing the same rate as last autumn. Here are a couple of photos taken today above 9,000 feet. To see all his photos, click on the link at left of his Facebook Gallery.
We’re feeling lucky today. Even though fall color has been visible in locations throughout California since August, Google’s search masthead today makes it official. Finally, it’s fall. In the past week, I traveled to attend a travel writer’s conference in Iceland. Though that Nordic country has much to its credit, Iceland’s fall color doesn’t hold a candle (or more appropriately, a lava flow) to California’s. Here are some of the great photos that have appeared on our Facebook site, since I took off towards the artic circle.
Alena Nichols posts these shots taken in the San Bernardino Mountains
Steve Wolfe sends these shots from the Eastern Sierra.
Susan Taylor visited the Napa Valley and Eastern Sierra for these great images.
Kimberly Kofala always has great shots, and these did not disappoint.
Candace Gregory sent these warm aspen leaves from the Mosquito Flat Trail near Rock Creek Lake.
Laura Thompson reports the color is beginning to develop on Hwy 89 north of Truckee.
And closing this gallery of recent shots is Katrina Lounsbury’s kernel of fall color.
Right on schedule, Bishop Creek is reporting the first color in California to near peak. Color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort sends this report with color nearing peak a week later than reported last year. We consider that to be right on schedule.
Bishop Creek Canyon Overall Conditions
Above 8,500′ – Near Peak – GO NOW!
There’s been an explosion of color over the past week above 8,500′ in elevation, with many of the best views in Bishop Creek Canyon (along U.S. 395, west of Bishop) rapidly progressing from patchy color to near peak. The higher groves on the mountainsides are showing the most yellow and orange with the lower lying aspen along the road a mix of brilliant yellow and lime green. It’s impossible to know how long the color will stick around but Jared Smith reports he’s hopeful that we have a few more weeks of spectacular color to enjoy.
7,000′ to 8,500′ – Patchy (10 – 50%)
The lower reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon are showing a bit of color, patchy at best, but deep or lime green still dominates the landscape. Jared reports, “It will be interesting to see if the lower lying aspen turn as quickly as the trees higher in the canyon. Either way, there is still a lot of color to come over the next few weeks if the weather holds out.”
GO NOW! – Near Peak ( 50 – 75%) Wier Pond (9,650′) Still some green along the road and stream but the hillside above the pond and many of the aspen along the far side of the pond are turning very fast. I’d wager that peak color will happen here sometime in the next week.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Parchers Camp (9,260′)
The color has really come on strong the past week with about half of the aspen and willow around the camp turned or turning.
Patchy (10 – 50%) – Willow Campground (9,000′)
Although the campground is now closed, the color is just now starting to pop in this area. The aspen on the hillside are turning fast while the aspen along the beaver pond, road, by the Tyee bridge and in the campground are just now starting.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Sabrina Campground (9,000′) The aspen within the campground are just starting to turn but the aspen along Hwy 168 are near peak color with some gorgeous red and orange showing. The groves just around the corner from the North Lake turnoff, which are just on the other side of the campground, don’t typically exhibit any orange or red but the yellow is pure and bright and is showing big time.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) Still some green mixed in but the aspen are really popping here with the groves turning or already turned all the way down to the stream. The view from South Lake Road is exceptional just below the campground. Within the campground itself there isn’t a ton of color yet but the best views are of the mountain above it which is really looking nice.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%)
Surveyor’s Meadow (8,975′) There is still some green along the road here but the peak color on the mountain to the west of South Lake Road is flat out stunning already and likely to peak within the next week to 10 days.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Lake Sabrina (9,150′) As expected the color at Lake Sabrina went off this week with many of the groves at or near peak. Despite some of the lake showing peak color, I rated the color here as near peak as there is still enough green yet to change to allow for more color over the next week or so. Weather, most importantly wind, is the enemy here so if conditions stay calm the color should remain spectacular for some time yet.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) North Lake (9,255′) While aspen-lined dirt road on the east side of the lake is still mostly green, the aspen covering the mountain directly above the lake, the trees around the first parking area and the aspen all along the west shore have started to turn or already turned and the views are amazing.
Patchy (10 – 50%) Steiny Loop & Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) Quite a bit of color has started to develop along the old road referred to as the Steiny Loop. Lime green is most prevalent but some beautiful yellow patches are showing.
Patchy (10 – 50%) Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) A few touches of yellow just to the right of the waterfall is about all that is going on at this location, by far one of the most popular stops on any fall color tour of the Bishop Creek area.
Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Aspendell (8,400′) Lime green is all that we’re seeing in Aspendell despite brilliant color just a half mile above the small community.
GO NOW! – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) One of the best views in the canyon right now is from Hwy 168 looking up canyon where gorgeous color has turned from Cardinal mine all the way down to Cardinal Village Resort.
Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Four Jeffries A few branches have turned but for the most part the aspen here are just now starting to lighten from a deep dark summer green to a lime green.
Just Starting – (10 – 50%) – Intake II There is some color on the mountain above the lake but most of the aspen around the lake are just now a lime green.
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 : 6.5 knots
Humidity : 18%
- Saturday Today 38 - 75 °F
- Sunday Tomorrow 36 - 73 °F