Sorry: Map Not Updated

Sincere regrets, as I won’t be able to update the California Fall Color Map until Sunday, due to the power shutdown.

I had to relocate to continue posting on the site and the iPad I’m using won’t let me access the map’s editing function.

Until I get the iMac powered again, the map cannot be updated. Sorry.

Fall Color Map Tops 2.7m Views

California Fall Color Map (10/4/19)

The California Fall Color Map (click top Nav Bar or Sidebar link to access) has now topped 2.7 million views.

The map is updated each week on Friday and shows confirmed reports received from color spotters. As such, it depends on reports and is updated only when reports have been received.

As such, it may not be accurate for a given location, should reports from that location not have been received or have changed greatly since last updated. Nevertheless, it provides a quick overview of where peak fall color can be seen throughout California.

Leaves on the map indicate the extent of change: dark green, No Report; light green, Just Starting; yellow, Patchy; orange, Near Peak; red, Peak and brown, Past Peak.

To contribute a report to the map, email

, Wins Seven EIC Awards

1st Place, Best Outdoor Feature Photograph, Outdoor Writers Association of California, 2019
Seasonal Confetti, Roaring Camp Railroads, John Poimiroo won in seven categories at the Outdoor Writers Association of California’s recent Excellence in Craft Awards, presented at Mount Shasta City in late May.

The website was named California’s Best Outdoor Internet Site for the second successive year and received first place awards for Best Outdoor News Article (Aspen Grove Trail Recovers) and Best Outdoor Feature Photograph (Seasonal Confetti), Best Outdoor Video Short (Giving Thanks). received a second place award for California’s Best Outdoor Medium (won by the Bishop Visitor Guide) and two third place awards for Best Outdoor Photographic Series (Sacramento’s Last Leaves) and the Phil Ford Humor Award (Orange Friday).

More about the Outdoor Writers Association of California is found at

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Giving Thanks and Looking Back at 2018

On this Thanksgiving Day, is thankful to the many color spotters and photographers who contributed reports, photographs and videos in 2018.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): Jeff Luke Titcomb, Lisa Wilkerson-Willis, Anson Davalos, Walt Gabler, Chico Hiking Association, Lance Pifer, Peter Asco, Liz Grans, Alicia Vennos, Cindy Hoover, Michael Beatley, David Senesac, Kathy Smith, Jared Smith, Elliot McGucken, Will Ridgway, Ursula Esser, Toru Takahashi, Clayton Peoples, Herb Hwang, David Olden, Rodney Chai, Mark Harding, Alena Nicholas, Gigi de Jong, Matthew Pacheco, Jeff Simpson, Julia Ellis, Martha Fletcher, Josh Wray, Shelley Hunter, Dave Butler, Philip Reedy, Nick King, Todd Backman, Larry Salmi, Douglas Van Kirk, Bruce Wendler, Darrell Sano, Lisa May, Shanda Ochs, Robert Kermen, Connie Varvais, Dan Varvais, Mike Caffrey, Surjanto Suradji, Jeri Rangel, Adam Potts, Daniel Danzig, Tracy Zhou, Colin Birdseye, Bonnie Nordby, Cathy Tsao, Paul Kim, Peter Chun, Ming Lo, Jeff Hemming, Jennifer Cornell, Toru Takahashi, Joe Pollini, Patti Jananoski, Leor Pantilat, Steve Shinn, Roberto Ferido, Jerry Sy, Jason Paine, Gene Miller, Kathleen DiGiorgio, Crys Black, Benjamin Vu, Kirsten Liske, Laura Jean, Ravi Ranganathan, John Dinsmore, Tor Lacy, Candace Gregory, Sophie Beaney, Julie Kirby, John King, Thomas Haraikawa, Kathy Jonokuchi, Jake Puchalski, Jean Pan, Dylan Ren, Mark Harding, Melani Clark, Namita Mishra, Max Forster, Gabriel Leete, David Sharp, Ken Locke and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (you are too numerous to list).

Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, 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.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. We are truly indebted to every contributor.

Of course, this list is incomplete without mentioning my wife, Joan, who has driven the car and pulled it to the shoulder so that I could jump out to photograph particularly beautiful locations; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out spectacular color; and tolerated my exuberance in showing her countless stunning photographs taken by our contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have read, followed, reacted and commented here and on our social media pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Above is our video impression of autumn in California, this year. We produce a new video each autumn. To see them all, CLICK HERE.

The photographs selected for this year’s video represent: what happened this autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken in 2018.

If you would like your photographs considered for inclusion in next autumn’s video, submit “horizontal” pictures of fall color taken in places not often photographed. As, competition is stiffest among pictures taken at the most photographed destinations.

Autumn doesn’t end today. It continues for nearly a month longer. We’ll continue to post photos and reports, as received. Though today, we begin to dial back reports and will post them less frequently. We’ve also stopped sending  weekly reports to meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and plan an Orange Friday of fall color spotting, tomorrow.

See you next autumn, dude. 

California (Peak 75-100%) GO NOW! – In our hearts, California is always peaking.

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Looking Back at Autumns Past

Tomorrow, we post our annual Thanksgiving Day message and video review of 2018.

It will be our seventh annual “California Fall Color Looks Back” video. As, although went live in 2009, it wasn’t until 2012 that we began posting video reviews.

In advance of seeing “California Fall Color Looks Back at 2018,” we thought you might like to see those from years past.

Ron Tyler created each video. Ron is head of the Tyler Marketing Group, an El Dorado Hills-based marketing communications consultancy with expertise in social media, product marketing and video.

Each of the photographs selected for these videos is representative of what happened that autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color seen across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken that year. 






Mapping Fall Color

California Fall Color Map (10/3/18)

There is no machine-driven method of automatically mapping fall color across California. The California Fall Color Map (at right on Navigation bar) is updated manually when reports are received, verified and time allows.

Once weekly (or immediately if a significant change is confirmed), reports are consolidated and the map is updated by changing a location’s leaf color. A report in one area can trigger changes to surrounding areas at the same elevation.

The map is a visual guide to how autumn color is changing, though it may not be precise for a given day or time, because conditions may have changed there since the map was last updated.

Above, you see the map as updated today (click to enlarge). Those areas with Just Starting color are either in that range or an update has not been received to change a leaf’s color.

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/3/18)

Bishop Creek Canyon (at left) is one area that gets lots of reports, so its map is precise to a few hundred feet, when updated. The accuracy of the map depends on reports from people across California.

When an area is transitioning from Peak to Past Peak, we are cautious to not declare an area as Past Peak until most of the color has fallen, as there’s still beauty to be seen. This is a subjective decision, but one that over time has proven to be prudent.

However, please note that once a brown Past Peak leaf has been placed in a given area, other peaking locations near the same elevation are likely to become Past Peak momentarily. So, haste is needed to see peak color there.

Dated photographs confirm reports. So, if you’d like to contribute to the map, include a photo and date of when the color was seen and email your report to

We received word this week that, in response to California Fall Color’s concern the fall color map posted at showed too few regions to be helpful, The Weather Channel is doubling the number of regions shown on its map.

Data on The Weather Channel map is supplied by hundreds of stringers throughout the United States. Similar to the California Fall Color Map, The Weather Channel map is updated weekly, as reports are received.

Through these tools, color spotters, photographers and leaf peepers gain a clearer understanding of where it’s peaking locally and nationally. 

Why Don’t Evergreens Lose Their Leaves?

Coastal Redwood, El Dorado Hills (9/7/17) John Poimiroo

Actually, they do.  It just doesn’t happen all at once.

Evergreen trees have both broad leafs and needles. Madrone, magnolia and photinia are examples of broadleaved evergreens, while pine, fir, cedar, spruce, and redwood have needled leaves.

Evergreen needles can last anywhere from a year to 20 years, but eventually they are replaced by new leaves. When that happens, the old needles turn color and drop, but not all together and not as dramatically as deciduous trees (e.g., maple, oak, dogwood, alder, birch).

The reason needles are green is that they are full of chlorophyll which photosynthesizes sunlight into food for the tree. It also reflects green light waves, making the needles look green.

Needles, just like deciduous leaves, contain carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments. You just don’t see them until the green chlorophyll stops being produced. Once that happens, hidden carotenoids (yellow, orange and brown) emerge, as is seen in the above photograph.

Additionally, red, blue and purple Anthocyanins – produced in autumn from the combination of bright light and and excess sugars in the leaf cells – also emerge once the chlorophyll subsides. Yes, even evergreen leaves change color… eventually.

In snowy regions, evergreen trees are able to carry snow because: the waxy coating on needles, along with their narrow shape, allows them to retain water better by keeping it from freezing inside (which would otherwise destroy the leaf), needles prevent snow from weighing down and breaking branches, and needles are able to sustain the production (though slowed) of chlorophyll through winter. Whereas, broadleaved deciduous trees would be damaged if they kept producing chlorophyll and didn’t drop their leaves.

Evergreen trees do lose their leaves and the leaves do change color. It just isn’t as spectacular. 

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Chlorophyll Molecule (Wikipedia)

Leaves on deciduous trees change color in autumn from green to various hues of lime, yellow, gold, orange, red and brown because of a combination of shorter days and colder temperatures.

Throughout spring and summer, green chlorophyll (which allows trees to absorb sunlight and produce nutrients) is made and replaced constantly.

However, as days grow shorter, “cells near the juncture of the leaf and stem divide rapidly but do not expand,” reports “This action of the cells form a layer called the abscission layer.

“The abscission layer blocks the transportation of materials from the leaf to the branch and from the roots to the leaves. As Chlorophyll is blocked from the leaves, it disappears completely from them.”

That’s when vivid yellow xanthophylls, orange carotenoids and, due to a different process, red and purple anthocyanins emerge.

Orange is found in leaves with lots of beta-carotene, a compound that absorbs blue and green light and reflects yellow and red light, giving the leaves their orange color.

Yellow comes from Xanthophylls and Flavonols that reflect yellow light. Xanthophylls are compounds and Flavonols are proteins.  They’re what give egg yolks their color.

Though always present in the leaves, Carotenoids and Xanthophylls are not visible until Chlorophyll production slows.

Red comes from the Anthocyanin compound. It protects the leaf in autumn, prolonging its life. Anthocyanins are pigments manufactured from the sugars trapped in the leaf, giving term to the vernacular expression, “the leaves are sugaring up.”

The best fall color occurs when days are warm and nights are clear and cold. California’s cloudless skies and extreme range of elevations (sea level to 14,000′) provide ideal conditions for the development of consistently vivid fall color, as seen in these reports. 

Why Do Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Snowcreek (11/2/15) Alicia Vennos

It’s survival not just of the fittest, but of the wisest.

Deciduous trees drop their leaves in order to survive.  As days grow shorter and colder, deciduous trees shut down veins and capillaries (that carry water and nutrients) with a barrier of cells that form at the leaf’s stem.

Called “abscission” cells, the barrier prevents the leaf from being nourished. Eventually, like scissors, the abscission cells close the connection between leaf and branch and the leaf falls.

Had the leaves remained on branches, the leaves would have continued to drink and, once temperatures drop to freezing, the water in the tree’s veins would freeze, killing the tree.

Further, with leaves fallen, bare branches are able to carry what little snow collects on them, protecting them from being broken under the weight of the snow. So, by cutting off their food supply (leaves), deciduous trees survive winter.

The fallen leaves continue to benefit the tree through winter, spring and summer by creating a humus on the forest floor that insulates roots from winter cold and summer heat, collects dew and rainfall, and decomposes to enrich the soil and nurture life.

It’s a cycle of survival, planned wisely. 

How to Submit Reports and Photos

Bigleaf Maple, Spanish Creek (10/14/17) Michael Beatley

Over 100 volunteer “color spotters” (our term for contributors) submit photographs and reports to each autumn.

To be one of them is easy. Email photos within a few days of when they were taken* to Include the photographer’s name, date the photo was taken and the location where the photo was taken.

Please note: We are unable to compensate photographers for use of their images, but always credit the photographer for his/her work. Many contributors have had their photographs republished leading to broader recognition/exposure, enhanced resumes/reputation, paid compensation from others and/or retail sales, not to mention bragging rights.

Photos should be high resolution**, particularly if you’d like them considered as one of the best photos of the week. The week’s best photos are (with photographer’s permission) sent to major broadcast and print media; they won’t accept any photo less than 300 dpi in size.

Reports should include: % of color change for the location being reported (e.g., North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon) – not for a specific tree or shrub (expressed as: Just Starting, 0-10%; Patchy, 10-50%; Near Peak, 50-75%; Peak, 75-100%;  or Past Peak), the name of the location, roads (e.g., take Rock Creek Rd. east from US 395), date visited and any helpful information (e.g., “The trail is steep for the first 500′. but then levels out for the two mile hike to the lake. A grove of peaking aspen is found at the western side the lake trail.”).

If you know the foliage seen in the photo (particularly if it is unusual or wouldn’t be evident to us), please describe it (e.g., aspen, bigleaf maple, black oak, silver willow, etc.).

We will make every effort to publish your report, particularly if it is from an unusual or lightly reported destination. When multiple photographs are received from heavily visited locations, we are able only to publish the first received, the best or the most unusual.

Occasionally, we will post a portfolio of historic photos, but often only on Friday or when fresh images have not been received. Photos may be cropped or adjusted for best presentation.’s style is vivid and photojournalistic. Images that tell a story or that show human activity in relation to autumn are best.

Reports and photos can also be posted on CaliforniaFallColor’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Though, emailing photos and reports to is the best way to get them on this site, and the only way to get them considered as one of the Best of the Week.

Thank you and happy wandering! 

* Historic photos, like Michael Beatley’s shot of Spanish Creek (seen above), are published – on occasion – days or even years after they were taken, but only to illustrate an article that is not time-sensitive. Fall color reports only use photos taken during the previous week, in order to present what can be seen at that location.

**A high resolution photo is one that is 300 dpi (dots per inch). A photograph of 1 megabyte or larger is usually large enough to be considered to be high resolution. Please don’t hesitate sending a photograph just because it isn’t 300 dpi. Pictures taken with mobile devices often get included in our reports, when the device has been set to shoot a large picture. 72 dpi images (set for websites and devices) are too small for reproduction in print media.