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California Roundup

Green Lake (9/23/17) Naresh Satyan

Color spotters from across California have been contributing their observations.  Here’s a roundup of what they’re seeing.

Eastern Sierra

Groves Above Cardinal Village (9/24/17) Clayton Peoples

Clayton Peoples spent Sunday in the upper reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon and reports, “Although I agree with color spotter Will Ridgeway on rating the high elevations above Lake Sabrina as “Near Peak” (50-75%), much of Bishop Creek Canyon is still “Patchy” (10-50%)–but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still beautiful color to be found.

“For instance, the upper portion of the groves above Cardinal Village have turned mostly orange. Given a few more days, this subset of aspens will likely be at peak color. Likewise, some of the aspen around Lake Sabrina have begun to turn yellow and/or orange–but will likely need a week or more to reach peak color.

Nevertheless, Clayton predicts there will be “numerous weeks of good color to come in Bishop Creek Canyon as color fills in more fully in the high elevations, then works its way down.” Clayton would assess Bishop Creek Canyon as “Peak of the Week” worthy… and we agree.

South Lake Rd, near Parchers, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/23/17) Naresh Satyan

Naresh Satyan hiked from South Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon to Green Lake (up to 12,400′) before snow turned him back, yesterday. He reports that aspens along South Lake road are still mostly green and healthy), though he found a few stands surrounding the Parchers Resort that are turning nicely.

The color appears to be best at or above 10,000′ which coincides with a Near Peak (GO NOW!) report we received this past week from Sabrina Lake.

You will, however, find peak color among the willows, grasses and ground covers. That is evident in the photo of Green Lake (11,260′) which Naresh described as “spectacular and well worth the hike to get there.” Of course, be prepared for cold temperatures. A light dusting of snow on the mountains and some lupines still blooming made for an unforgettable hike.

 

Shasta Cascade

Ruth Hartman reports from Coffee Creek in Trinity County (Shasta Cascade) that color this past week’s cold snap got dogwood turning red and varigated green along Hwy 3 in Trinity County at 3000′. You’ll find it while heading north along the Slate grade, two miles before Tannery Gulch campground. Odd, but we’re seeing the same with planted dogwood at 800′ in elevation, east of Sacramento in El Dorado Hills.

Southern California

Gingko Biloba, Long Beach (9/23/17) Trent Vierra

Liquidambar, Long Beach (9/23/17) Trent Vierra

Trent Vierra interrupted his morning bike ride, yesterday, to snap a couple of shots of gingko biloba and liquidambar brightening up along 1st St. in the Bluff Heights neighborhood of Long Beach, and commented that he’s been noticing change in color among these exotic species.

That’s typical of liquidambar, though the gingkos tend to keep to a more regular schedule. Still, Trent scores the first “First Report” for Long Beach. While doing that, he also got a shot of a Maine license plate beside emerging California Fall Color… double score.

 

 

 

 

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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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California Fall Color Looks Back at 2016

On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is thankful to every color spotter and photographer who contributed photographs and reports in 2016.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): LA Leaf Peeper, Darrell Sano, Alena Nicholas, Sandy Steinman, Sweetshade Lane, Chuck Eads, Josh Wray, Anirudh Natekar, Carolyn Webb, Jill Donald, Mark Finan, Eileen Javora, Don Vilfer, Greg Newbry, Jeff Simpson, Jared Smith, Krisdina Karady, Leslie Morris, Shanda Ochs, Gary Young, Dave Olden, Kimberly Kolafa, Clayton Peoples, John Caffrey, Alicia Vennos, Kimberly Wilkes, Bob Weaver, Robert Provin, Sharon Roberts, Debbi Waldear, John Natelli, Vince Piercey, Kevin Lennox, Tim Fesko, Phillip Reedy, Elliott McGucken, Becky, Scott Turner, Naresh Satyan, Max Forster, Mark DeVitre, Daniel Stas, Mike Nellor, Leor Pantilat, Kevin Rose, Julie Kirby, Gigi deJong, Michael Caffey, Abhi Bhaskaran, Andrew Zheng, Laura Zirino, Jan Davies, Jeri Rangel, Lorissa Soriano, Carol Novacek, Nancy Wright, Janet Fullwood, Jim Van Matre, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Marc Hoshovsky, Gene Miller, Raymond Pangilinan, Crys Black, Jeff Hemming, Michael Beatley, Maggie Huang, Wendy Zhou, Danny Hu, Susan Taylor, Tracy Zhou, Gabriel Leete, Frank McDonough, William Croce, Son H Nguyen, Skandar Reid, Dennis Hayes, Anson Davalos, and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook page (including: Brian Wong, Dave Butler, Pardhiv Kani, Jeff Guillory, Nancy Barron Booher, Mark Grover, Kathy Jonokuchi, Vera Fuad, Cory Poole, Sara Stillwell, Peter Stair, Front St. Media, JT Humphrey, Ray McLaughlin, Rose Comstock, Daklak Foto, Mark Spicer, Tracey Lee Brown, Joel Rathje, Connie Ostlund Varvais, Susan Walker Bell, Cristi Lanepa and Stephen Dietrich) and those who retweeted our Twitter posts (you are too numerous to name).

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.

This list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has researched plant species in reference books; driven the car, pulling it over to the shoulder at my whim, so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and tolerated my exuberance in excitedly showing her wonderful photographs taken by contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed CaliforniaFallColor.com here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. CaliforniaFallColor.com is indebted to every color spotter, photographer and commenter. Thank you all.

Autumn doesn’t end on Thanksgiving Day. 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, posting them less frequently. We have also stopped issuing weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy Thanksgiving Day. See you next autumn, dude.

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

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The Low Down on Down Low

Chinese pistache, Watsonville (8/21/16) Chuck Eads

Chinese pistache, Watsonville (8/21/16) Chuck Eads

For the past week and a half, we’ve received a flush of reports of near peak fall color appearing down low (Oakland, Berkeley, Watsonville, Salinas, San Diego), though spots of color have been reported up high, too (Eastern Sierra, San Bernardino Mountains).

So, what’s the low down on color that’s down low?

Almost all the early peak color seen at lower elevations so far (with the exception of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego) has appeared on non-native trees, whereas native trees appear to be developing normally.

Every year, we get reports of trees with early color.  Often the trees happen to be exotics (non-native), like the liquidambar that LA Leaf Peeper reported as fringed with red in June.

Does this mean an earlier autumn? We suspect not. Early change is more likely a product of a particular environment, locale or specie, than it is a harbinger of an early autumn, statewide.

Our recommendation to see the best color is to plan travel to see fall color in California, as normally.  The best way to do this is to use this site as a research tool, by looking back at the area you want to visit (category) or date when you plan to visit (archives).

Notice when the color was at peak at a given location during the past five years, then pick an average date for past peaks, or find locations where it was peaking when you can travel and go there.

With either approach, your choice should be very close to peak color. And, that’s the low down on traveling to see the best fall color in California.

Near Peak (50-75%) – Watsonville Community Hospital (Go Now!)

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California Fall Color Looks Back at 2015

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On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is indebted to every color spotter and photographer who contributed photographs and reports in 2015.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): LA Leaf Peeper, Alicia Vennos, Jon Klusmire, Alena Nicholas, Trapper Felt, Carol Waller, Christine Osborne, Julie Yost, Crys Black, Nikhil Shahi, Misti Sullivan, Kevin Lennox, Ashley Hollgarth, Jen Heger, Kimberly Kolafa, Julie Kirby, Aditi Das, Jeff Hemming, Erick  Castellon, Shanda Ochs, Jackson Frishman, Cuong Diep, Maddie Noiseaux, Leor Pantilat, Lara Kaylor, Jeff Simpson, Clayton Peoples, Lisa Wilkerson-Willis, Phillip Reedy Ruth Hartman, Charles Porter, Greg Newbry, Elliot McGucken, Jared Smith, Dotty Molt, Sherry Gardner, Jill Dinsmore, Josh Wray, Mike Nellor, Ivan Alo, Pushkar Gejji, Mariusz Jeglinski, Gary Young, Patricia Costa, Lisa May, Laurie Baker, Shuo Li, Dylan Ren, Brian Patterson, David Olden, Gabriel Leete, Jeri Rangel, Jim Beaux, Cory Poole, Walter Gabler, Max Forster, Jim Adams, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Nancy Wright, Bonnie Nordby, Kathy Jonokuchi, Linnea Wahamaki, Sarah Showalter, Vera Haranto Fuad, Jas E Miner, Susan Taylor, Santhakumar V A, Darrell Sano, Frank McDonough, Anson Davalos, Sandy Steinman, Anirudh Natikar, Jennifer “JMel” Mellone and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many hundreds of readers who posted comments and photos to our Facebook page and retweeted our Twitter posts. If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional.  We we are indebted to every color spotter, photographer and commenter. Thank you all.

Additional thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, 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.

This thank you list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has: humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and driven the car and pulled it over to the shoulder, at my whim, so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed CaliforniaFallColor.com and our Facebook and Twitter pages.  You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Autumn doesn’t end on Thanksgiving Day. It has 26 more days to go.  We’ll continue to post photos and reports as received and plan a Special Report on San Diego County. Though today, we begin to dial back our reports, posting them less frequently. We also stop sending weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy Thanksgiving Day, and we’ll see you next autumn, dude.

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

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Giving Thanks and Looking Back at 2014

Remembering Lake Sabrina at Peak (10/1/14) Jared Smith

Remembering Lake Sabrina at Peak (10/1/14) Jared Smith

June Lake (9/28/14) Nicholas Barnhart

June Lake (9/28/14) Nicholas Barnhart

North Lake Road (10/1/14) Jared Smith

North Lake Road (10/1/14) Jared Smith

Lundy Canyon (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Canyon (9/28/14) Alicia Vennos

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Fremont Cottonwood (10/5/14) Nick Barnhart

Fremont Cottonwood (10/5/14) Nick Barnhart

Conway Summit (10/11/14) Susan Holt

Conway Summit (10/11/14) Susan Holt

Aspendell (10/16/14) Steve Wolfe.

Aspendell (10/16/14) Steve Wolfe.

40th Ave., Sacramento (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave., Sacramento (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

The Redwood Highway (10/26/14) Walter Gabler

The Redwood Highway (10/26/14) Walter Gabler

Methodist Church, Quincy (10/28/14) Mike Nellor

Methodist Church, Quincy (10/28/14) Mike Nellor

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mt Shasta (11/4/14) Cory Poole

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mt Shasta (11/4/14) Cory Poole

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Bigleaf maple (11/11/14) Alena Barnhart

Bigleaf maple (11/11/14) Alena Barnhart

Valyermo (11/16/14) Frank McDonough

Valyermo (11/16/14) Frank McDonough

Lake Silverwood (11/16/14) Nicholas Barnhart

Lake Silverwood (11/16/14) Nicholas Barnhart

Cook's Meadow, Yosemite NP (11/23/14) Susan Taylor

Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite NP (11/23/14) Susan Taylor

Autumn 2014 didn’t live up to its predictions.

Back in August, when leaves first began to turn, some forecast that California’s third year of drought would diminish the show of fall color.

Instead, as Jared Smith’s photograph of Lake Sabrina shows, it was spectacular.

Here’s how autumn shaped up:

  • CaliforniaFallColor.com’s first “fall color report” was published on August 13, a week later than in 2013.
  • Our first GO NOW! alert was reported on September 17, also a week later.
  • Our first Peak was reported on Sept. 23, five days later than last year.  That first peak coincided with the first day of autumn (Autumnal Equinox).

So, 2014 was not the earliest of shows, but it defied early critics and became remarkable for its long-lasting and breathtaking color.  If the third year of record drought in California had any effect, it was to stress trees in specific and limited areas, resulting in drier leaves that dropped more quickly, but that was an exception.

The drought’s dry weather continued through autumn, meaning that California had mostly clear, sunny days and cold nights, with little wind or precipitation.  Those were ideal conditions for development of great fall color.

Look back through our archives and you’ll see why CaliforniaFallColor.com claims California to have the longest-lasting, most diverse and most spectacular autumn in America. No other area of the country compares.

The photographs submitted by amateur and professional photographers support that claim.  If you happen to like a particular photograph you’ve seen on this website, look for the photographer’s link at left or Google them.  Many sell their photographs.

Today, although autumn continues until Dec. 21, CaliforniaFallColor.com pulls back its reporting. We stop sending weekly updates and photographs to California meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers, because we’ve learned, over the years, that even though autumn continues for several more weeks, public interest in autumn wanes after Thanksgiving Day.

Nevertheless, if you happen to see some beautiful fall color, send a photo to us at editor(at)californiafallcolor.com or post it on our FB page.

There is still a lot of beautiful fall color to be seen in San Francisco, down the San Francisco Peninsula, in the South and East Bay, in California’s vineyards, in the historic mining towns of the Gold Country, in the Central Valley, throughout Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, and in the Deserts.

Fall color will continue to warm the landscape and our hearts well into December.