Napa County Color is Aging Like a Fine Wine

Napa Valley (10/17/09)

Napa Valley (10/17/09)

15-30% — Napa Valley.  Vineyards in the Napa Valley are turning by grape variety.  Some plots are deep aubergine, others a mix of crimson, orange, yellow, and lime-green.  Most of the valley is still green.  The boulevard of elms at the Beringer winery is glowing yellow.  Given that weather does not otherwise damage the leaves, the vineyards should continue to be colorful for two to three weeks.

Napa Valley (10/17/09)

Napa Valley (10/17/09)

30-50% — CA-128.  Sage Canyon Road from the Napa Valley has pockets of bigleaf maple and cottonwoods in moist canyon areas that have turned yellow with orange touches.  A spectacular bright yellow alder glows at the Nichelini Winery.  Between Lake Hennessy and Lake Berryessa, bright yellow ash and bigleaf maple and some orange-red poison oak are seen near the Somerston Vineyards which are just begining to show color.

Photo Credit: © 2009, John Poimiroo

Did You Say “Poison Oak?”

Dave Stockton reports again from Humboldt County that Shivley Bluff and Redcrest near the Eel River are showing lots of color.  These towns are along the Avenue of the Giants, a beautiful drive through California’s redwood forests, so even though the fall color occurs in sparse pockets of blazing color, the drive is impressive none the less.

Poison Oak (stock photo)

Poison Oak (stock photo)

50-75% Shively Bluff and Redcrest. Shively Bluff is almost all Poison Oak.  That’s right, you heard correctly… “poison oak” which blazes red in autumn.  Don’t touch it or you’ll be itching for weeks, but Dave reports it’s “a wonderful sight. ”

Oregon Ash (stock photo)

Oregon Ash (stock photo)

30-50% Bull Creek. The Oregon Ash are now showing lovely gold tones.  Black oak with their dark trunks and branches are orange leaves are just begining to turn.

Photo Credit (poison oak): © Melinda Fawver |

Photo Credit (oregon ash): © Virginia Tech Dendrology Dept.

Yosemite Sugar Maple Peaking

Yosemite Chapel & Black Oaks (stock photo)

Yosemite Chapel & Black Oaks (stock photo)

I just spoke with Scott Gediman, PIO at Yosemite National Park, who says the sugar maple by the Yosemite Chapel is at 75% peak and should peak sometime between now and the end of the weekend, as when it goes, it happens fast.

Here’s how it stands in Yosemite National Park at present:

15-30% — Yosemite Valley Maples. As reported earlier in the week, the Yosemite Blog reports that “Bigleaf maples on talus slopes and riparian woodlands from Cascades to Happy Isles are lighting up.”

30-50% — Yosemite  Valley Black Oaks. Scott adds that Yosemite Valley’s stately black oaks are nearing 50% of peak, with their deep orange color providing beautiful contrast to California’s blue skies and revitalized waterfalls.

75-100% — Yosemite Chapel Sugar Maple. Scott says the sugar maple near the Chapel is near peak and will probably peak over the weekend.  This gorgeous red tree is not native to the Sierra, having been planted by settlers in the Valley.  Now is the time to go see it in full color, as the color won’t last long.

75-100% — Wawona. Another maple south of Forest Drive in Wawona is also turning. Some aspens and cottonwoods in the Wawona area are starting to turn.

Photo Credit: © Howardliuphoto |

Snow Fall and Fall Colors

Mammoth Lakes Basin (10/15/09)

Mammoth Lakes Basin (10/15/09)

30-50% Mammoth Lakes. This beautiful shot of the Mammoth Lakes Basin by Jimmy Kellett shows the mountains covered with the recent snow fall combined with fall color.  Mammoth Mountain has announced that they received so much snow (as much as six feet at upper elevations – in one day!) that they will open tomorrow for the second earliest day on record and the skiing is free!

Skiers and snowboarders will be able to ride the Broadway Express lift from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m and ski a base of 16 to 24″ of machine-groomed “natural” snow. Runs to open on Friday include: Broadway, St. Moritz, Forest Trail, Mambo and Main Park with assorted rails and jibs to entertain the skiers and boarders.  Mammoth will open additional lifts in succeeding days, as conditions permit.

What an idea!  Fall color viewing and skiing!  For those interested in heading to the east side, Mammoth offers First Tracks lift and lodging packages for as little as $99 per person based on double occupancy.  Call 800.MAMMOTH or visit to book your stay.

Photo Credit: © 2009 Jimmy Kellett

You Shoulda Been There

Years ago when I worked in Yosemite Valley, you wouldn’t find me at my desk following a big storm.  As, that’s when the best photographs can be taken… when most people are snug and warm inside.  Ansel Adams exemplified that philosophy with his magnificent “Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley.”  Yesterday, I was supposed to be photographing Redding and the Shasta Cascade, but we scrubbed the shoot because of the storm… thinking that we wouldn’t get the best photos.  It turned out the day was beautiful.

So, today I turn to Greg Boyer’s superb blog, One Horse Studio, to see his remarkable photographs of the Eastern Sierra that he shot yesterday (of course) following a big storm.  The photos are wonderful, but the real story is in how he got them… braving a blustery day in which he was blown off his feet to get a great shot near Convict Lake.  Best of all, Greg writes (confirming what Tim Fesko reported earlier today) that good color is still to be seen in the Eastern Sierra.  From what Greg writes, I devise the following report:

30-50% June Lake Loop. Half green, half yellow and developing nicely.  If the aspen hold out long enough for the warmer days predicted next week, should be peaking within a week.

50-75% Lee Vining Canyon. Near peak, though the wind knocked a lot of leaves from the trees.  Look for the aspen to peak this weekend.

Color Emerging in Redwood Country

30-50% Humboldt County. Dave Stockton reports that Shively Bluff and Redcrest are now “bright and others are beginning to unfold.”  Hey, I don’t write ’em, I just report them.

Antelope Valley Weathers Storm

Tim Fesko of the Meadowcliff Resort & RV Park reports that despite three inches of rain falling in the Antelope Valley (Walker, Coleville, Topaz) on Tuesday, the day that followed was beautiful with most leaves surviving the blow.  Tim promises to get up to Monitor Pass this week to see what happened above 8,000′, though down in his valley cottonwoods and aspen came through it fairly intact.  Only the elms, which had already turned reddish “had their leaves taken by the wind.”  Tim projects that with warmer weather predicted for most of the coming week, colors ” should start turning from the current lime green – yellow to yellows, oranges and more reds.”

Lake County Colors a’ Poppin’

Terre Longsdon reports that fall foliage is beginning to pop in Lake County.  Terre recommends driving CA-175 from southern Lake County between Kelseyville and Middletown and up over Cobb Mountain.  You’ll pass through towns the likes of Whispering Pines, Pine Grove and the area’s hub… Cobb, which she recommends as a good place to stop and eat.  There’s not much time for golf if you’re leaf peepin’, but Terre says the course there is fun to play.

After you travel through the Big Valley, leave CA-29 at Bottle Rock Road to Cobb Mountain where you’ll see vibrant chartreuse, yellow, orange and burgundy.  When Bottle Rock Rd meets CA-175 in Cobb, turn right and continue south on CA-175 for more color.

Walnut Orchard, Kelseyville (10/12/09)

Walnut Orchard, Big Valley, Kelseyville (10/12/09)

30-50% Walnut Orchards.  Most walnut orchards are approaching 50% with very intense yellow leaves.

Vineyard, Lower Lake (10/12/09)

Vineyard, Lower Lake (10/12/09)

15-30% Vineyards.  The vineyards are beginning to show yellow, orange and red in their grape leaves.

30-50% – Coast Range (1500′).  Oaks in California’s Coast Range above 1,500′ in elevation are approaching 50% of peak with the next two weekends positioned for good color in Lake County.

Photography: © 2009, Lyle Madeson

Yosemite Blog Reports Sugar Maple Turning Red

The Yosemite Blog today reported, “Bigleaf maples on talus slopes and riparian woodlands from Cascades to Happy Isles are lighting up. The sugar maple near the Chapel and the maple south of Forest Drive in Wawona are also turning. Some aspens and cottonwoods are starting to turn. Most oaks and dogwoods are waiting a while longer.”  Photos of the waterfalls and Merced River posted on the Yosemite Blog today show big water and blue skies!

Dodged a Bullet, Perhaps

Early reports are that California Fall Color may have dodged a bullet.  Jennifer Boyd reports from South Lake Tahoe that “the storm has passed and the trees still have leaves on them, which is great considering the howling winds we had.”  Jared Smith says he’s shoveling out from a lot of snow which fell in the Eastern Sierra.  We reported last week that trees above 8,500′ had been cleared of turned leaves the week previously.  So, when yesterday’s storm blew through, there weren’t many turned leaves to clear.  Most were green to yellow-green.  Although yesterday’s storm had high winds, those leaves that had not yet turned may have had enough strength to stay held to their branches.  Photos and additional reports are expected tomorrow.