Eastern Sierra reporting early Yellow, Orange and Red

South Lake with view of Hurd Peak

South Lake with view of Hurd Peak

0 – 15% — South Lake in Inyo County at 9,768 ft. is one of the first areas of California to show fall color.  Jared Smith of Parchers Resort and South Lake Landing is one of our most reliable and consistent color spotters.  He provides the first report of the season that while South Lake is still a few weeks from peak, it is beginning to show yellow.  Most of the color is accessible by boat towards the back end of the lake, still there is come excellent color there, right now.

0 – 15% — One of the most popular spots for photographers in the canyon is Weir Pond at 9,592 ft. in elevation.  A large grove of quaking aspen on the west wall of the canyon is beginning to turn yellow.  There is still plenty of green, but this spot is a bit ahead of the rest of the canyon.

Poplars - North Lake Road

Poplars - North Lake Road

0 – 15% — North Lake at 9,255 ft. has little showing as yet.  The dark greens, Jared Smith reports, have turned to light green, but there isn’t much yellow to be found near the poplar road, or in the large groves that line the west shore.  The best color to be found is on the drive approaching North Lake above Cardinal Mine.  However, color changes fast in the Eastern Sierra so it could break big in the next ten days, depending on conditions.

0 – 15% — Lake Sabrina at 9,150 ft is looking the best of all these reports, with quite a bit of yellow showing.  The back of the lake is still nearly all green with the exception of a little patch in the back right corner of the lake that is bright red.  Jared says, “things are moving along nicely, but we’re still a ways from the best stuff.”

Sabrina Campground - CA-168

Sabrina Campground - CA-168

0 – 15% — At Sabrina Camp (9,000 ft), a few separate groupings of aspen in the campground are already showing.  Yellows, oranges and reds are visible in the grove.  The majority of aspen along the creek and campground are still very green and a ways from peak.  Aside from the one grove, the show is still very low at present.

0 – 15% — Willow Camp (9,065 ft) is beginning to look very nice in some places, but it still has a way to go before peak.  The hillside above Willow Campground, but below Parchers Resort, is the furthest along and is showing quite a bit of yellow.  This area seems to be progressing faster than other areas.

Table Mountain Group Campground

Table Mountain Group Campground

15 – 30% Table Mountain Group Campground (8,845 ft) is really begin to light up with color, according to Jared Smith.  There is a lot of green, so overall the color is low, but it’s already photo worthy in quite a few areas.  This area is turning so fast, it could peak as early as next week (weather dependent).

0 – 15% — Mist Falls (South Fork Bishop Creek) is always a late bloomer and presently is “as green as green can be.”  Won’t peak for at least two more weeks.

0-15% — The Sherwin Mountains overlooking the Snowcreek Golf Course in Mammoth Lakes are flickering with spots of yellow according to color spotter Sarah McCahill of the Mono County Tourism Commission.  Give it a week or two and you’ll have added reason to explain why you missed the putt.

California Fall Color also recommends visiting Carol Leigh’s superb blog for photographers (see links).  On Carol’s Fall Color in California page, Kahlee Brighton wrote about the Eastern Sierra, “…more color is appearing at higher elevations. Willows and smaller aspens are turning gold around Mosquito Flat above Rock Creek Lake. Aspens north of Lee Vining are also lightening in color. Rabbit Brush is in peak bloom in various locations, adding its golden beauty to the overall sense of impending Autumn. Things are still pretty green overall, but no question, Fall is in the air throughout the Eastern Sierra. With respect to Southern California, I’m so surprised to see more trees turning yellow. This morning, I noticed liquidambar with touches of gold — even orange and red — in several areas. Ivy and a few other noted autumnal delights were also changing. This is VERY early for Southern California.”

Kahlee Brighton brings together beautiful pictures of fall color in the Eastern Sierra at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kahlee/3819123586/ and Greg Boyer waxes poetic about shooting great photographs in California at http://www.onehorsestudio.com/weblog/.

Photo Credit: Jared Smith

2 replies
  1. Kahlee Brighton says:

    Hi John — Thanks so much for the mention in your Fall Color reports. Just to note, my name is “Kahlee” not “Kathlee,” and in quoting my report for Carol Leigh’s website, the tree in the So Cal area was correctly spelled in the original report, “liquidambar”. Its common name is American sweet gum, and the full Latin name is liquidambar styraciflua. A very reliable tree for Fall color most anywhere it’s established, and here in So Cal, probably our best bet for an Autumn show.

    Your readers who are active Flickr members might be interested in checking out our Eastern Sierra Fall Color group. http://www.flickr.com/groups/easternsierrafallcolor/. Membership is by invitation only, but as long as the person is active on Flickr or has a strong presence as a photographer on the web, he or she is welcome to join. It’s a fun group and there are excellent images posted.

    Many thanks to you for the reports, and to Jared for the photography. I’ve already mentioned your site in our discussion area, but I’ll be sure to let the members of the ESFC group know when you have new reports posted. Again, thank you!


    • John Poimiroo says:

      Colorful thanks to Kahlee. I corrected the errors she mentions in her comment, so if you were looking for them, they’re now gone. Her comment on liquidambar got me scratching my head. When I first saw Kahlee write “liquidamber” on Carol Leigh’s CalPhoto blog, I Googled the name and found the tree spelled online as “Liquid Amber.” Just goes to show you can’t trust whatever’s written on the Internet. Sure ‘nough, the Sunset Western Garden Book has it as “liquidambar.” The common name, American Sweet Gum, was a surprise, as I always thought of the tree as an exotic, and the book also reports that two species: formosana and orientalis hail from China, whereas styraciflua is native to the eastern US. Whatever you call them, liquidambar are spectacular trees, which along with Chinese pistache (pistacia chinensis) provide some of the more dramatic fall color to be found in urban and suburban California.

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