Time Your Trips to These Bishop Events

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Want to combine your fall color spotting with a special event? Here’s a list of upcoming events near Bishop (US 395) and what areas are likely to be peaking.

Fourth Week of September

Fall Color is predicted to be patchy to near peak up Bishop Creek Canyon

  • 22 – Downtown Bishop Fall Fling- Dine in one of Bishop’s restaurants then stroll to participating shops. Live entertainment, free raffle to win $250 gift certificate.
  • 22 – 24 – Annual Pow Wow & California Native American Day Celebration.  Parade, traditional dancing, hand games, art & crafts, music, food & more.
  • 22 – 24– Slim Princess Reunion, Laws Museum. Southern Pacific narrow-gauge locomotive #18 (the Slim Princess) has been parked in Independence since 1955. This is its coming out party, with the locomotive to run under its own steam for the first time in 63 years. Grounds admission: $10, Children 12 and under, free.  Caboose rides: $20 (limited) Advance tickets are now sold out. carsoncolorado.com.

First Week of October

Fall Color is predicted to be near peak to peaking up Bishop Creek Canyon

  • 1 – Nov. 15 – Fall Tagged Fish Trout Contest.  Catch a specially tagged fish and win a cash prize.

Second Week of October

Fall color is predicted to be past peak at the highest elevations of Bishop Creek Canyon, though near peak to peaking at lower elevations.

  • 6 – 7 – Lone Pine Film Festival.  Tours, stars, panels, parade, memorabilia dealers, arts & crafts show, music, and more. Museum of Western Film History. (760) 876-9909.
  • 7 – Choo Choo Swap Meet – Tri-County Fairgrounds, Bishop. (760) 873-5950.
  • 7 – BIG Parking Lot Dance Party.  Long Beach’s Elm Street Band will be playing Classic Rock & Roll dance party favorites in the parking lot at Schats Roadhouse. Free.
  • 7 – 8 – Owens Valley Cruisers Fall Colors Car Show, Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.  owensvalleycruisers.com.

Third Week of October

Fall color is predicted to be past peak in Bishop Creek Canyon, though peaking in the Round Valley to Pine Creek.

  • 13 – 15 – VCMC Dual Sport Motorcycle Ride.  Organized by Ventura County Motorcycle Club. venturacountymc.com (760) 873-3588
  • 13 – 14 – “Romancing the West, How the West was Sung,” a critically acclaimed “Time Traveling Documentary and concert.” Hidden Creeks Ranch, Bishop. RomancingtheWest.org. (760) 873-7750
  • 21 – Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance 5K Fun Run/Walk. 9 a.m., Bishop City Park. (760) 872-3811.

Fourth Week of October

Fall Color is predicted to be peaking in and around Bishop (Buckley Ponds and Rawson Ponds).

  • 27 – 29 – Eastern Sierra History Conference – About the people, places, and events that flavored the Eastern Sierra. Field trips and tours of Eastern Sierra cultural and historical sites (additional charges apply).  Oct. 28 dinner with local authors. Oct. 29 field trips. $90/adults, $75/seniors, $20/students, includes dinner. Single day: $45/Fri., $65/Sat. Register at ESIA.org, Eventbrite.com. or (760) 873-2411.
  • 28 – Downtown Bishop Chocolate Art Walk. Visit shops & galleries, peruse art and taste chocolate treats.  4 – 8 p.m., Free.

First Week of November

Fall Color is predicted to be peaking to past peak in and around Bishop.

  • 3 – 5 – American Alpine Club’s Fall Highball Craggin’ Classic.  Demos, clinics, film screenings, stewardship.  www.cragginclassic.com.
  • 4 – Toiyabe Road Run.  Register 7:30 – 8:45 a.m. at the Millpond Recreation Center. 5k/10k run starts at 9 AM, 1k walk starts at 9:15. (760) 873-8461.
  • 5 – Steel Parade – Caribbean music. 3 p.m. Dorothy Joseph Auditorium, Bishop Union High School.  bishopcca.org.

Timing is Everything

Convict Lake (10/7/13) Susan Morning

Here’s a list of fall events happening near Mammoth Lakes. Since timing is everything when it comes to seeing fall color, should you plan to be Outside on the Eastside for these events, here’s what should be showing. Click on name of event for link to its website.

Now, through Nov. 15 – Ambush at the Lake Fishing Derby – This annual fall fishing derby occurs at Convict Lake in Autumn. If you love fly fishing and nature (as I do), what better way to combine the two than participating in Ambush at the Lake? The aspen should be peaking around Convict Lake between Oct. 6 and 15. Stay tuned to our updates.

Sept. 14 – 17 – Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games – Subalpine lakes in the Eastern Sierra are beginning to show spots of color, though it’s still early for peak color. The Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games is a mountain bike event on Mammoth Mountain – big league. If you’re up for a vigorous hike, trek up to any lake above 9,000′ for views of early color.

Sept. 17 – Tails & Trails Dog Fest – You’re probably not gonna hike uphill to see fall color, if you’re traveling with your best friend. High Sierra trails can be rough on their pads, unless protected. So, after you participate in the easy walks in this dog-friendly event, drive up Bishop Creek Canyon on your way to/from Mammoth Lakes to see what’s happening at South Lake, Sabrina Lake or North Lake.

Sept. 22 – 24 – Mammoth Oktoberfest – Again, the high subalpine lakes are where to see the best fall color, made even better with a picnic and beer purchased at the Mammoth Oktoberfest. Upper Rock Creek, south of Mammoth Lakes, should be near peak.

Oct. 27 – 29 – Morrison’s Bonus Fishing Derby – Whoa, Nelli! 14 fish will be tagged on this weekend, as part of Ambush at the Lake, and worth $2,000 each, to any angler who lands ’em. By the end of October, most of the areas near Mammoth Lakes have peaked, though good color should still be available north of town, along US 395 between Lee Vining and Topaz.



LA’s Descanso Gardens Becomes an Enchanted Forest

Symphony of Oaks, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Flower Power, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Super Pool, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.

That’s because several of the most beloved areas within the 150-acre garden become the “Enchanted Forest of Light” at night, through Jan. 8.

Unlike other festivals of lights that cover trees with twinkly lights, Descanso Gardens bathes its urban forest with intensely colored flood lights.

Rainbow Sycamores, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Luminous Lawn, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Super Pool, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

However, this is more than a light show.  Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light is an interactive, nighttime experience unlike anything else in Los Angeles with a one-mile walk through eight distinct lighting displays.

As visitors walk through the enchanted forest, they trigger light displays and are awed by the beauty of the illuminated forest.

Highlights include “The Pool,” an interactive light sculpture by artist Jen Lewin in which people manipulate colors by walking over lighted pads.

In the Symphony of Oaks, visitors manipulate sounds and lights that fill the Oak Grove.

Descanso’s famous Japanese Garden is the last attraction along the walk before stopping for hot cocoa or a snack.

Flower Power, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Because of the show’s popularity, tickets are timed and must be purchased in advance.

White birch, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

Gingko biloba, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

Crepe myrtle, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

During daytime, the gardens provide a continuing show of nature’s color with native and exotic trees at full peak fall color.

Enchanted: Forest of Lights, Descanso Gardens,La Cañada Flintridge – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


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Special Report: Holiday Light Festivals

Celebration Swings, Celebration Plaza, California's Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Celebration Swings, Celebration Plaza, California’s Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Often thought of as winter events, most holiday light festivals actually begin in autumn. They’ve become increasingly elaborate, to the point that neighborhood holiday displays and Christmas trees, parades, caroling and ice rinks in town squares now are comparatively small and quaint.

Snowflake Lake at Columbia, California's Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Snowflake Lake at Columbia, California’s Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Mistletones, Hometown Square, California's Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Mistletones, Hometown Square, California’s Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Celebration Plaza, California's Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Celebration Plaza, California’s Great America, Santa Clara (12/3/16) John Poimiroo

This holiday season, California’s Great America in Santa Clara holds Winterfest, and Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park becomes Knott’s Merry Farm. Both are elaborate holiday-themed shows that cover up to two-thirds of the parks with every imaginable icon of the season.

At Great America, ice skaters swirl in front of the double-decked Carousel Columbia on Snowflake Lake. Snow machines blow flakes into the chill night air; St. Nick is there for family photos; there are live reindeer to pet; Mrs. Claus is in the kitchen preparing cookies; craftsmen create one-of-a-kind gifts; and Charlie Brown’s Tree Lot is just as imagined on TV Christmas specials.

The park is filled with thrills (10 major thrill and children’s rides areas operate) and music… not just the Christmas songs amplified through the park’s sound system, but at performances throughout California’s Great America, with a company of singers and dancers serenading a tree lighting that occurs several times nightly and in festive stage and street shows, called Cool Yule, Holly Jolly Trolly, Jingle Jazz, Mistletones and It’s Christmas Snoopy.

But then Great America and Knott’s are not alone. The Roaring Camp Railroads operates Holiday Lights Trains from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Dec. weekends and daily, Dec. 17 – 23. As the trains’ vintage railroad cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll along the streets of Victorian Santa Cruz, passengers sing holiday carols, sip hot spiced cider and listen to live music as Santa visits. A Chanukah Train leaves on Dec. 29.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim holds a number of holiday-themed happenings: the Christmas Fantasy Parade, World of Color, Disney !Viva Natividad!, Santa’s Holiday Visit, many holiday themed shows and (need I say?) Holiday Magic Fireworks.

At the San Diego Zoo, there’s Jungle Bells with millions of twinkling lights and carolers singing above the roars and cries of zoo animals. Even Sea World lights up at Christmas and is home to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and yes, you can compete in reindeer games.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo are transformed into winter wonderlands lit with millions of lights and thrills to scare the jelly right out of Santa’s belly.

In the Central Valley, Global Winter Wonderland at Sacramento’s CalExpo and the Tulare County Fairgrounds are mind-boggling displays of fantasy lands set in lights, plus carnival rides, ice skating and parades.

So, just because little natural fall color remains on the trees (it’s transitioning from peak to past peak along the coast), animated, cheery shows of manmade color are lighting the last days of autumn to the first days of winter, across California.

Holiday Lights Festivals, Statewide – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


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Fall Color to Colorful Events

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Opening Day, Mammoth Mountain (File Photo)

Opening Day, Mammoth Mountain (File Photo)

Spots of fall color can still be found and enjoyed in and near Mammoth Lakes, though the energy there has shifted from enjoying autumn adventures to colorful events happening from late-October to mid-November, leading up to the reopening of Mammoth Mountain and the start of winter sports.

Nevertheless, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray had to get in one more photo of how he and his buds enjoy autumn, with the preceding shot of hiking at Convict Lake, just south of Mammoth Lakes. Don’t you just want to be there? I sure do.

Fall color still rings the lake trail and picnic areas, though the stands running up the mountainside no longer carry color.

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Convict Lake (10/18/16) Josh Wray

Josh anticipates that next week will be the last for a fall color report from Mammoth Lakes. Though, it’s evident from this list of upcoming happenings that the fun never stops there.

Oct – 21/22 – Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour Festival

Oct. 22 – Outside on The Eastside Fall Symphony Concert 

Oct. 28/29/30 – Morrison’s Bonus Fishing Derby Weekend

Oct. 28 – Halloween Party & Haunted Roller Rink

Oct. 29 – Wine Dinner at Jimmy’s Taverna

Nov. 5 – The Felici Trio presents “A Winning Ticket”

Nov. 10 – Opening Day – Mammoth Mountain

Convict Lake – Peak (75-10%) GO NOW! – The color has mostly fallen around the lake, though color near the campground and in spots along the trail remains at peak. This is the last week of peak color, there.

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Alpine Aspen Festival

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Now, this is our kinda festival… one dedicated to autumn aspen, and it happens in Alpine County.

Alpine is California’s smallest county by both land area and population. Not even 1,200 people live there.

Located South of Lake Tahoe, it is surrounded by El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mono Counties. Alpine was created in 1864, during a silver rush, from bits and parts of each of those counties.

The county was named Alpine because it resembles Switzerland, though Switzerland is 21 times bigger and has over 4,000 times more inhabitants.

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Hope Valley (9/26/16) Debbi Waldear

Autumn is a special time in tiny, remote, Alpine County. Quaking aspen, black cottonwood and willows decorate its meadows and streams with yellow, gold and orange. And, all this autumn splendor is canopied by the bluest of blue skies.

The most famous of Alpine County’s fall color viewing areas is the Hope Valley (intersected by CA-88, Carson Pass). There, large stands of aspen line streams, a long, scenic meadow and high mountain rangeland.

On Oct. 8 and 9, the Hope Valley will host the Alpine Aspen Festival along Blue Lakes Road with: guided nature walks, horseback rides, fly-fishing and outdoor yoga, demonstrations of Dutch oven cooking, photography and watercolor workshops, native-American cultural demonstrations, tent talks on local history and alpine folk music.  

CLICK HERE to reserve your place at the Alpine Aspen Festival (recommended).

Hope Valley, Alpine County (7,300′) – Patchy (10-50%)


Autumn Wildlife Festivals

Tundra Swans, California Swan Festival, Marysville (11/13) Leslie Morris

Tundra Swans, California Swan Festival, Marysville (11/13) Leslie Morris

Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (10/22/13) John Poimiroo

Sandhill Crane Festival, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, Lodi (10/22/13) John Poimiroo

Autumn is a season of migration throughout California. Avian and insect species transit the state in multitudes, to our collective delight.

Several communities celebrate these migrations.

Here’s a list of some of California’s best autumn wildlife festivals.



CLICK HERE for more about Watchable Wildlife in California.

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Autumn is Events Season


Bishop Chamber & Visitors Bureau

Tawni Thompson of Bishop reminds us that September and October are prime events months in Inyo County, with history, endurance, cultural, pop, film, sport and fishing faires, festivals, days, races, ralleys and seminars.  

Here are some highlights to combine with a fall color viewing trip.

9/10 – Laws Museum Good Old Days.  Pioneer crafts, demonstrations, live music & pie auction.   www.lawsmuseum.org 

9/9-9/11 – White Mountain Double Century Bike Race.  http://ndzone.com/white-mountain-double/

9/16-9/18 – Millpond Music Festival.  www.inyo.org 

9/23-9/25 – Pabanamanina Pow Wow & California Indian Days 

9/30-10/2 – Fall Colors Car Show, Fine Art Show & Sale, Arts & Crafts Faire and Choo Choo Swap Meet at Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.  http://www.owensvalleycruisers.com/fallcolors.htm

10/7-10/9 – Lone Pine Film Festival.  http://www.lonepinefilmfestival.org/ 

10/7-10/9 – VCMC Dual Sport Motorcycle Rally.  http://vcmc.info/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=370060&module_id=183046 

10/14-10/16 – Fly Fishing Faire.  Seminars, vendors, fly-tying demonstrations, casting, classroom and on-the-water clinics.  All skill levels welcome!  http://www.bishopvisitor.com/event/bishop-fly-fishing-faire/

10/28-10/30 – Eastern Sierra History Conference.  http://esiaonline.com/eastern-sierra-history-conference/

For travel planning info, CLICK HERE.


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Go Fly A Kite!

Eastern Sierra Kite Festival

Eastern Sierra Kite Festival

Walker, Calif. is the location of the first Eastern Sierra Kite Festival on the weekend of Sept. 17 and 18.

Colorful kites will be competing, demonstrated, built and displayed at this visual and fun event.

That’s great timing for a trip to Virginia Lakes, off Conway Summit, where color should be approaching peak.

Early peak color may also be near peak then at Tuolumne Meadows in eastern Yosemite National Park.

And, if you arrive from the south, a trip up Bishop Creek Canyon should be rewarding that week.

CLICK HERE or HERE, for more about the festival.


Fall Wildlife Festivals Add Color

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 3.05.20 PM

Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015

Autumn is festival season with many events occurring just as leaves are turning color. Wildlife migrations and mating seasons are often celebrated.

A major migration of humpback, blue and killer whales and dolphins continues to December in Monterey Bay, where large gatherings of humpback whales put on spectacular shows corralling schools of anchovies, then rising together to feed on them. Whale watching trips take spectators out near the feeding families of whales. CLICK HERE for a general listing of available trips.

In September and early October, it’s rutting season for California’s Tule and Roosevelt Elk, seen at Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Sonoma County and Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt County. The Elk Meadow Cabins at Orick are a prime location to base and watch the elk rut. Find more at redwoodparklodge.com.

On Sept. 26, the 21st annual Salmon Festival occurs at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville. This event includes salmon cooking demos and tastings, “non-stop entertainment,” tours of the hatchery where spawning salmons can be seen, kayak trips on the Feather River, a river cleanup event, a 3k color run, a dance, health fair and river cleanup. More is found online at salmonfestivaloroville.org.

California Swan Festival, Quincy (file photo)

California Swan Festival, Marysville (file photo)

November 13 – 15, the California Swan Festival occurs in Marysville with field trips and tours, presentations and workshops.  More is found at caswanfestival.com.

Monarch Butterfly (file photo)

Monarch Butterfly (file photo)

In mid November, Monarch butterflies return to California’s Coast (Santa Cruz, Pacific Grove and Pismo Beach) from their year-long migration to Utah and Canada.  Eucalyptus trees hang heavy with the brightly colored butterflies.  CLICK HERE to see a report on the butterflies.

More about viewing California wildlife and attending wildlife festivals is found at cawatchablewildlife.org.