California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Sierra’

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 MonoCounty.org.

Death Valley Wildflowers Provide Surprising Show

Wed ,02/04/2014
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death  Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Cheryl Chipman of the National Park Service reports that, much to their surprise, Death Valley National Park is experiencing a spectacular bloom of wildflowers, despite California experiencing a severe drought.

On paved roads:
• South of Badwater, on the west side of Salsberry Pass there are carpets of yellow Desert Dandelion, Wooly Daisy and Gold Poppy. For the full effect, visit on a sunny mid-day as the dandelion and poppys open only in direct sunlight.
• Along Highway 190, between Emigrant Campground and Towne Pass are orange Globemallow, yellow White-Stemmed Blazing Star, white Gravel Ghost, pale purple and yellow Mojave Aster and vine-like Death Valley Phacelia.
• In lower Emigrant Canyon the bloom is about to peak. Hillsides are covered with Golden Evening Primrose, white Pebble Pincushion, and lavender Fremont Phacelia and Broad-flowered Gilia.
• The showy magenta flowers of Beavertail Cactus are popping open throughout the park, and if you look closely you may also notice the green flowers on the Golden Cholla.
• Bit by bit, high desert flowers like scarlet Indian Paintbrush, richly-hued Indigo Bush, sky-blue Desert Larkspur, tall spikes of Princes Plume and multi-colored Hopsage are just starting to appear.

On backcountry roads:
• On the north end of Greenwater Valley you can find fields of Desert Dandelion, Fremont Phacelia, Tickseed and Coreopsis.
• At Eureka Dunes the rare white (fading to pink) Eureka Dune Evening Primrose is just starting to bloom and will have an exceptional flowering season with huge plants already in place. The large flowered Yellow Evening Primrose and Desert Marigold are now the show.
• At Lee Flat, the Joshua Trees are blooming nicely this year. This is the best to see these tree-sized yuccas in the park.
• The canyons on the east side of the Panamint Mountains that were flooded out last summer are thick with yellow Brittlebush this spring. The roads in the washes are still a mess, but worth walking into from the canyon mouths.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Tue ,29/10/2013
McGee Creek Trout Ponds (10/29/13) Susan Morning

McGee Creek Trout Ponds (10/29/13) Susan Morning

In “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” poet Robert Frost wrote of the paradoxes in life, which seem all the more poignant and apropos as Mammoth Lakes submits its last fall color report of the season.  Here’s what Frost wrote…

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

— Robert Frost

McGee Creek Trailhead (10/29/13) Susan Morning

McGee Creek Trailhead (10/29/13) Susan Morning

Snowcreek Ponds 2

Snowcreek Ponds, Mammoth Lakes (10/29/13) Susan Morning

Color spotter Edina Ingram reports that the Mammoth Lakes area is largely past peak for fall color. Here’s the latest report from and around Mammoth Lakes:

Past Peak – Mammoth Lakes (7,500′ and below) -  Bits of bright color still provide warm contrast to the icy chill of approaching winter along the McGee Creek Trail, 8 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes, though Mammoth Lakes is now ready for the return of skiers and riders on Nov. 7. 

Past Peak – (Above 8,000′)  - With just a week left before it reopens, Mammoth Mountain is promoting Early Booking Slopeside Specials.

 

Gone With The Wind

Mon ,28/10/2013
Before The Wind, Mono County (File Photo) Alicia Vennos

Before The Wind, Mono County (File Photo) Alicia Vennos

It began blowing at about noon yesterday in the Sierra foothills and blew through the afternoon and night, stripping trees of leaves that had turned.  Snow fell to 5,000′ in elevation.  Steve Hemphill of Sierra-at-Tahoe said a foot fell last night.  Webcams from Heavenly and Kirkwood show a heavy dusting, though those images showed brush poking through, here and there.  It will take a bit longer before we’ll be skiing, even though Heavenly began making snow today.

On Saturday, we traveled to Pleasant Valley in the Gold Country where the oaks were beautifully orange along Snow’s Road, south of Camino and Apple Hill.  High winds likely stripped a bit of that color, yesterday, though leaves that hadn’t yet turned will remain on their branches and color up in the next week or two.

US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sriday

US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sridhar

Black Oak, US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sridhar

Black Oak, US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sridhar

Also traveling US 50 (The Lincoln Highway) this past Saturday was Vijay Sridhar, who was on his way to Emerald Bay.  Vijay was taken by the beautiful color to be seen beside US50, which was at peak.  He noted the beautiful combinations of green, yellow and orange  as the highway traveled beside the American River.

Chrystal Lake (10/26/13) Richard McCutcheon

Chrystal Lake (10/26/13) Richard McCutcheon

Color spotter Richard McCutcheon sent this image of what the color looked like at Chrystal Lake in Plumas County. The beautiful show that was at peak along Hwy 89 in the Northern Sierra has now been blown away by rain, snow and wind.

Mono County’s color spotter, Alicia Vennos, said the change began with, “…big winds yesterday afternoon and all through the night, and it’s snowing quite heavily right now (11 a.m.)”  She said, “driving the June Lake Loop yesterday late afternoon was like being in one of those booths where paper money is flying all around and you have to grab as many bills as you can – the leaves were swirling like crazy through the air!  So our precious fall season has come to an end.”

There wasn’t much left on the trees in Mono County, as the show had already descended to 6,000′, so the storm stripped what would have dropped anyway, over the coming week.

We’re now in a typical pattern of early storms then breaks.  It’s predicted to be cold for the next week, but then warm slightly.  That means color will continue to develop at lower altitudes and autumn has not ended. The Shasta Cascade and Gold Country regions will likely be at or near full peak in the next two weeks, with color appearing between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Aspen, Eastern Sierra (10/23/13) Phoebe Joy

Aspen, Eastern Sierra (10/23/13) Phoebe Joy

Photographer Phoebe Chuason sent a link to images she’d captured in the Eastern Sierra on Oct. 23, well before the storm flew through.  She took our advice to GO NOW! and got lovely photos of the peak, including a late season shot at Cardinal Mine in the Bishop Creek Canyon that is pure magic.  CLICK HERE to see her photos.

ATT San Ramon

AT&T Park, San Ramon (10/27/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Color spotter Linnea Wahamaki sends this photo of fall color at the AT&T Business Park in San Ramon.  It’s representative of the many beautiful urban forests that are at or near peak throughout California.  Great color can be seen in Sacramento, Burlingame, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Walnut Creek and San Ramon.

Past Peak – Mono County - You missed it.  Alicia thanks all who came to enjoy the fall colors of Mono County this autumn and says she’s already missing the show, but looking forward to 2014.

30 – 50% – Gold Country (3,500′) - Pleasant Valley is at too low an elevation to have been snowed upon, but the many oaks that are turning from green to orange have likely lost a good percentage of leaves from yesterday’s winds.  Still, color will continue to show on leaves that hadn’t turned.

Black oak, US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sridhar

Black oak, US 50 (10/27/13) Vijay Sridhar

GO NOW! 50 – 75% – US 50 (4,000 to 5,000′) - Black oaks are peaking along The Lincoln Highway between Pollock Pines and Kyburz.

 

Cattails at Mono Lake

Sat ,26/10/2013
Cattails (typha), Mono Lake County Park (10/25/13) Aki Yamakawa

Cattails, Mono Lake County Park (10/21/13) Aki Yamakawa

Color spotter Aki Yamakawa sends us a Flickr file of photos taken last weekend in the Eastern Sierra.  Aki-san says he often rides his sport bike to the Eastern Sierra in autumn to photograph the fall color.  This weekend is likely the last big one to see the color change at that elevation.  CLICK HERE to see Aki-san’s photos.

 

Mono Moves to the lower Canyons, Walker River

Fri ,25/10/2013
Topaz Lake (10/18/13) Alicia Vennos

Topaz Lake (10/18/13) Alicia Vennos

There’s still gorgeous color to be seen in Mono County, though it’s now peaking in the lower canyons, Walker River and at Topaz Lake.  This is likely the last weekend for peak color along the rim of the June Lake Loop, which has been spectacular.

Past Peak - Upper areas of Mono County are now past peak with remnant color still viewable, such as at Sotcher Lake near Reds Meadow (west of Mammoth Lakes).

GO NOW! – 75-100% – Lower Rock Creek – Spots of color are found up the lower section of Rock Creek, though upper Rock Creek has completely blown its color.

June Lake Loop (10/24/13) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/24/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! – 75-100% – June Lake Loop – This is likely the last weekend to see aspen along the June Lake Loop at peak.

AV - Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon (10/24/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! 75-100% – Lee Vining Canyon - Robust stands of aspen can be found in Lee Vining Canyon.  A wide ribbon of color is seen in Lee Vining Canyon from pull-outs along Tioga Pass Rd and close-up from the Poole Power Plant Road turn-off.

West Walker River (10/18/13) Alicia Vennos

West Walker River (10/18/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! – 75-100% – West Walker River – Walker, Coleville and Topaz are golden at river/lake level.  The Walker River Canyon is brilliant, as is Topaz Lake.  Upper elevations are past peak.

 

 

A Forest of Yellow at Mammoth Lakes

Tue ,22/10/2013
Aspen, Mammoth Lakes Basin (10/22/13) Susan Morning

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes Basin (10/22/13) Susan Morning

Edina Ingram reports, “the weather in Mammoth Lakes remains gorgeous. With daytime temperatures in the mid 60s: crisp air, bright blue skies and a forest of yellow, now is a perfect time for sightseeing, hiking or mountain biking.”  The Mammoth Lakes area is in full peak at lower elevations and past peak at higher elevations.

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes (10/22/13) Susan Morning

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes (10/22/13) Susan Morning

GO NOW! 75-100% – Mammoth Lakes (7,500′) - Fall color is peaking at Mammoth Creek, and Convict Lake, just south of Mammoth.  The trail around Convict Lake, ten minutes south of Mammoth Lakes, remains beautiful.  The aspen grove at the backside is fully vibrant. In Mammoth Lakes Basin, hike the trail ascending from the Twin Lakes parking lot to spots of great color.

Past Peak  – Above 8,000 feet - Fall color is just past peak. This includes upper regions of the Lakes Basin in Mammoth Lakes and the Devils Postpile National Monument (closes Oct. 31).

 

“Magnificent Mono

Thu ,17/10/2013
June Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

June Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

Mono County has come into magnificence with reports from color spotter Alicia Vennos of areas of this Eastern Sierra County that we haven’t seen previously.  This is most definitely the weekend to head to the East Side.  Now that the federal shutdown has ended, Yosemite National Park has reopened (Tioga Pass remained open throughout the shutdown).  So, this is likely the last, best weekend to head across the Sierra through Yosemite (Hwy 120 – The Tioga Road).

McGee Creek Canyon (10/16/13) Ethan James

McGee Creek Canyon (10/16/13) Ethan James

McGee Creek Canyon (10/16/13) Ethan James

McGee Creek Canyon (10/16/13) Ethan James

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – McGee Creek Canyon - Alicia reports that “There is a real mix of color right now at McGee — some trees are past peak, some are perfect, and others are still tiptoeing towards lime green and yellow.  The campground area is the richest in color, right now, but the hiking trail has some gorgeous gold and orange, too.

Convict Lake (10/16/13) Convict Lake Resort

Convict Lake (10/16/13) Convict Lake Resort

Silver Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Convict Lake – The entire canyon is at peak. There are lots of spectacular colors to be seen on the ride to the lake, including intense yellow, brilliant orange and, recently, traces of burnt Sienna. This is about the last weekend to see full color at Convict Lake, as large sections along the upper creek above the lake are dropping their leaves.  If you’re going, take advantage of these deals and offers:

  • Convict Lake Resort is offering Fall Lodging Specials through Oct. 31st starting at $379+tax (Sunday thru Thursday – 2 Nights for 2 Persons).  Includes $100 Restaurant Credit & Full Day Motor Boat Rental.
  • Late Fall Lodging Specials from Nov 3rd to Nov. 15th starting at $199+tax (Sundaythru Thursday – 2 Nights for 2 Persons).  Includes Full Day Motor Boat Rental.
  • Convict Lake Resort’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.
Double Eagle Resort & Spa, June Lake Loop (10/13/13) Ralph Lockhart

Double Eagle Resort & Spa, June Lake Loop (10/13/13) Ralph Lockhart

June Lake (10/14/13) Rachel Jackson

June Lake (10/14/13) Rachel Jackson

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – June Lake – 100% - Alicia reports that “It is pretty much perfection right now around everyone’s favorite “loop”, a.k.a. Hwy. 158″ We’ll add, that if you can get away, this is the prime weekend to see the June Lake Loop in all its glory.  We’ll probably be reporting past week, next week.  Ralph Lockhart at the Double Eagle Resort and Spa reports the entire north end of the June Lake Loop is “Exploding, right now.”

Therese LaChance Ely paints fall color at Parker Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

Therese LaChance Ely paints fall color at Parker Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

Parker Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

Parker Lake (10/12/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Parker Lake – 100% - This small, but majestic lake, attracts many young families, a few anglers, photographers and – this past weekend – even award-winning artist, Therese LaChance Ely, well-known for her “Sierra-scapes.”

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Lundy Lake - We’re amazed that Lundy has been so spectacular for so long.  This could be the last weekend to see it at peak.  Alicia describes it as “at peak and glorious, especially along Lundy Lake Road.” The popular hiking trail at the end of the dirt road, past Lundy Lake Resort, is past peak with just a few bright trees left.

Little Walker Lake (10/14/13) Alicia Vennos

Little Walker Lake (10/14/13) Alicia Vennos

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Little Walker Lake – Little Walker is a beautiful, lesser-known lake in dramatic Bloody Canyon, just north of the June Lake Loop.  Directions:  At the north end of Hwy. 158, take Parker Lake Road and then the first right, following the signs.  The trail starts high with a lovely view down to the lake.

 

Bishop Creek Canyon – Past Peak

Wed ,16/10/2013

Color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort reports that a solid week of sub-zero temperatures finished what was left of fall color up Bishop Creek Canyon.  Inyo County’s show now moves down in elevation to the Owens Valley.  Here’s Jared’s last report of autumn, 2013:

Overall Conditions above 8500ft  Past Peak

A solid week of frigid weather did in most of the color that was left. The color arrived a little early this year and while it was beautiful for a while, it’s mostly gone now. Hopefully next fall lasts a bit longer.

Overall Conditions below 8500ft Past Peak

Still some color lower in the canyon, especially near Bishop Creek Lodge and Big Trees Campground, however much of the brilliant yellow is more of an auburn after the cold temps of the last week. It’s safe to say that the best color has come and gone, even in the lower reaches of the canyon.

Parchers Resort closes for the season Sunday 10-20-13 and with most of the fall color gone, this will be our last report of the season. We would like to thank everyone who followed our reports and all of those who provided positive feedback. We look forward to 2014 and another batch of fall color reports. Feel free to email us to join the fall color list any time and we’ll make sure you get the latest greatest reports as soon as we start them next year.

We are indebted to color spotters Jared Smith and Krisdina Karady for supplying such detailed and colorful reports. Because of their reports, California Fall Color is left with memories of beautiful color on an early, but long-lasting show up Bishop Creek.

Parcher's Camp (9/26/13) Krisdina Karady

Parcher’s Camp (9/26/13) Krisdina Karady