Posts

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Over The Top

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Tioga Pass (CA-120E), Yosemite National Park (10/13/18) Gene Miller

June Lake Camp, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

On a whim, this past weekend, color spotter Gene Miller crossed the Sierra Nevada to the East Side and found “over the top” color.

Gene is a midwest transplant who misses autumn there, though has  “come to appreciate the Fall Colors … here.”
He said that getting there, was fraught with stops along the Tioga Road (CA-120E) where the trees were “mostly ‘At Peak’ or a little ‘past peak’,” depending on elevation, though when he descended Tioga Pass to Log Cabin Road, he found it “At Peak and brilliant!”

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Log Cabin Rd., Mono County (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Sherwin Creek Campground, Mono County (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Sherwin Creek Campground, Mono County (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Spent aspen, June Lake Loop (10/13/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

June Lake (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/18) Gene Miller

On Sunday, he was impressed by color along the June Lake Loop and at Silver Lake, but realized areas like Sherwin Creek Campground at Mammoth Lakes were Past Peak and loosing leaves.

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Log Cabin Rd. (7,545′)- Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • June Lake Loop(7,654′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sherwin Creek Campground, Mammoth Lakes (7,600′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

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Skate Skiing to Peak

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Skate Skiing, Rock Creek Rd. (10/11/18) Josh Wray

True to Mammoth Lakes’ 360-degree adventure theme, skate skiers have invented another new way to experience autumn, by skate skiing past boulevards of fall color on  Eastern Sierra canyon roads.

Mammoth Lakes is now virtually skating to Peak color, with GO NOW conditions at all canyon locations from Mammoth Lakes south to Rock Creek Rd.

A Fall Color Instameet is planned at Convict Lake on Saturday. For details, CLICK HERE

McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Convict Lake (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    Crowley Lake (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

    Mammoth Lakes Basin  (8,900ft+) – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT! – There’s still plenty of color around Twin Lakes. Though, the trees on the backside of Lake George are just about finished and will most likely be gone by the end of the weekend.

  • Laurel Canyon (8,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – 4WD high clearance vehicle required.
  • Convict Lake  (8,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – It’s finally “Go” time at Convict Lake. It’s only going to get better over the coming week.
  • McGee Creek  (8,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – McGee Creek is gorgeous. There’s lots of green, so this area will be at peak for a couple more weeks. Nevertheless, GO NOW!
  • Crowley Lake  (7,000’+) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Beautiful Colors are starting to fill the town of Crowley. Worth driving through town when traveling south from McGee to Rock Creek.
  • Rock Creek  (8,000’+)  Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!- Some groves are at peak. Others are off to a slow start. The lower half of Rock Creek Rd. is stunning while above 9,000′ it is Past Peak. Colder nighttime temps have helped speed the process. 

 

 

 

 

 

McGee Creek (10/11/18) Josh Wray

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Fire and Ice

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

It snowed today in the Eastern Sierra, providing the spectacular image of fiery-orange aspen against snow-coated sawtooth peaks.

Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray, lucky guy, was there and could only describe it with one word, “Gorgeous!”

Well, truth be known, he needed three words, also writing, “Wow!” and “Stunning.” Not even Ernest Hemingway could have said it better. 

  • Rock Creek  (8,500’+) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Josh wrote, “Wow. Just wow!” The colors are still pretty green below 8,500′ but above that, it’s stunning and made even more dramatic when contrasted against the snow-covered Eastern Sierra.
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,000’+) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – -–  Colors in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are still bright and vibrant. Definitely worth stopping by Lake George, then making your way back through Twin Lakes.
  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Patchy (10-50) –Not a whole lot happening here at the moment. Colors should change in the next couple of days as nighttime temps drop to the 20’s at night.
  • Convict Lake (7850′)- Patchy (10-50) – Similar to McGee Creek, this location is off to a slow start. Should pick up in the next few days. Colors are quite beautiful up high in the canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McGee Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Convict Lake, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/3/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

 

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Sky High Over Mammoth

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Agnew Lake, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/25/18) Josh Wray

In a week, Mammoth Lakes has transitioned from Patchy to Peaking. And, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray was sky high over it.

To see it all, he rode an exhilarating scenic flight with SkyTime Helicopter Tours out of the Mammoth Airport. Then, returned to earth to hike with a friend around lakes and along trails that are natural boulevards through bright yellow arbors of rustling aspen leaves.

Josh reports that fall color has matured quickly and though it will likely remain good for at least another week, we’re declaring Mammoth Lakes as a GO NOW! destination and the Rainbow Falls trail as this week’s Hike of the Week.

This is big country. Hikes can vary from heart thumping to easy romantic strolls. Josh recommends, “Head up to Lake George an hour after sunrise for the best light.”  Or do as Josh did and get above it all on a helicopter tour. Anyway you experience Mammoth, it’s a 360-degree adventure. 

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,000′ and Up!) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

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Hike of the Week: Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Lake (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

For the most developed color, the loop around Rock Creek Lake in southern Mono County (Eastern Sierra) gets this week’s nod as Hike of the Week. A photograph taken earlier in the week shows some of the beauty to be seen this weekend.

Though, there are plenty of other inviting trails to explore, as depicted by Will Ridgeway who hiked several trails to Lake Sherwin, at Convict Lake and at Lake Sabrina last weekend, returning with this compact portfolio of developing color. (Click photos to enlarge)  

Sherwin Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Sherwin Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Convict Lake (9/15/18) Will Ridgeway

Sabrina Approach (9/16/18) Will Ridgeway

Lake Sabrina (9/16/18) Will Ridgeway

 

 

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360-Degrees of Summer

Here’s one last look at summer as it transitions through autumn toward winter at Mammoth Lakes. 

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Mammoth Autumn Events Planned

Aspen, Rock Creek Canyon (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

The Town of Mammoth Lakes’ plans for fall festivals is absolutely Woolly! Here’s what’s ahead:

For more about what’s happening in Mammoth Lakes, download a Mammoth Lakes Visitor Guide or view the online Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide

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What One Videographer Saw Last Autumn

Start planning your fall color trips. This autumn oughta be awesome. 

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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Autumn

Twin Lakes Waterfall, Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/6/18) Josh Wray

As long as we’re in the singing mood, how about turning Johnny Mathis’ classic upside down.

No, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it is beginning to feel a lot like Autumn, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray reports. “It’s really starting to feel like the early days of fall in Mammoth Lakes now with summer crowds calming down and temperatures dropping at night.”

He visited the Mammoth Lakes Basin a couple of days ago, “…to see what it’s looking like up there, and it was gorgeous. There were traces of yellow aspen leaves off in the distance but nothing to report on quite yet.”

The color seen in the photo at left are grasses ringing the Twin Lakes. Otherwise, there’s little fall color yet to be seen at 8,500′ in the Eastern Sierra. 

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mammoth Lakes (8,500′)

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Time to be Outside on the Eastside

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Whoa, if ever there were a weekend to get Outside on the Eastside, this is it in Mono County.

Peak color can be found anywhere you go and whichever direction you drive. We’ll be posting an update on Lake Tahoe and the Hope Valley, after returning to scout those locations (Oct. 12) and fully expect the color to be great, just as it is in Mono and Inyo Counties right now.

Part of the reason this autumn is so good is why it is so confusing. On the exact same day for the same location we’ve received conflicting reports stating, “It’s gone” or “it’s spectacular” or “not yet there.”

What’s happening is that the aspen forest, for the first time in anyone’s memory, is turning by grove. Stands of aspen are different genetically, and they’re demonstrating their individuality this autumn. In past years, the genetic differences between the groves seemed to make little difference, as the trees at least acted as if they were on the same clock. Not this year.

What that means for fall color viewing is that the show is lasting longer, but not as uniformly at any given location.

The big change this past week occurred at the highest elevations, which for the most part went Past Peak. Places like Upper Rock Creek (10,300′), Tioga Pass (9,943′) and Sagehen Meadows (8,139′ – High Desert, so it’s drier there) are now Past Peak.  Though, that’s not universally true. Some of the groves at “you’ll-get-winded walking there” heights are still green.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Some spotters began declaring calamity after seeing stripped stands at some locations, posting on Facebook and elsewhere that high winds had stripped the color. So, I called Mono County fall color guru Jeff Simpson (Yes, you’ve now achieved guru status in your life, Jeff).

Jeff lives on the eastside and has been reporting autumn color for years. He seemed to be offended by the suggestion that fall had ended, saying, “in no way have all the leaves blown off.”

OK, Jeff, OK. I believe you, especially since you’re now a guru and after seeing your photos, taken as late as yesterday.

So, count on it.

This weekend, there’ll be lots of gorgeous color to be seen at: Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Canyon, Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake Road, Lee Vining Canyon, Monitor Pass and the June Lake Loop, even if a few leaves have fallen, as seen at right.

Here’s a detailed report from Mono County, a go-to destination for great fall color this week:

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Peak (75-100%) – Aspen on the summit are perfect, right now. Look for the large grove of trees on the east side of the summit to have the best display of color. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) – This area has never looked as good. Lots of peaking trees with deep reds and yellows. Get here fast, as some stands are past peak or will not last much longer.  Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Walker Canyon (5,200′)- Patchy (10-50%) – Walker canyon has slowed since last reported. There are stands with great yellows and lime greens while others are just getting started. Give it a week and it’ll be rating “Go Now!”, but not just yet.

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Just Starting (0-10%) – A few cottonwoods have started to turn but this is traditionally the last place to peak in Mono County. Look to go here in the 3rd or 4th week in October. Nevertheless, there are spots where the tall cottonwood are crowned with yellow in the midday sun.

Sonora Pass (9,623′)- Peak (75-100%) – It’s a fall color inversion here, as colors are looking nice around Leavitt Meadows Pack station and the lower sections of Sonora Pass, whereas aspen near the summit never seemed to get going. You’ll find peak to past peak groves along the road and is still worth the trip this weekend. See our earlier report about Obsidian Campground – glorious! GO NOW!

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes (7,000′) -Peak (75-100%) – The biggest change in Mono County this week has occurred at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Wonderful color has appeared along the upper and lower lakes, and up the mountainside toward Horse Creek. GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) –Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak – The leaves never got going at Virginia Lakes, this year. Though, there’s still some great color along Lower Virginia Lakes Road. GO NOW! as You’re About to Miss It.

Conway Summit (8,143′)- Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lot’s of great color at Conway Summit right now. A few stands are a little green while most of the mountainside is at full peak. Tip: visit in the late afternoon, as shadows make this difficult to photograph in morning light. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) – – Simply spectacular. Entire groves of peaking aspens make this location a must stop.  NOTE: The Summers Meadow bridge sustained significant damage during the spring runoff. The bridge has been reduced to one lane traffic but is currently open to visitors traveling to Summers Meadow. GO NOW!

Conway Summit (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is great color to be found in Lee Vining Canyon, especially along Log Cabin Mine Road. Higher up, Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake are past peak. GO NOW!

Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′)- Peak (75-100%) – Be prepared for brilliant color up Lee Vining Canyon at the first set of waterfalls. Color along the road and campground is our peak as Peak of the Week. GO NOW!

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Past Peak (You Missed It.)

JUNE LAKE LOOP

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lots of bright lime, yellow and orange in the aspen around the June Lake Loop. There are peak trees just about everywhere. And yet, the June Lake Loop will last another week or two. We do not recommend delaying, but if you only can visit in two weeks, you should still find spots of good color. GO NOW!

Parker Lake (8,000′) – 50-100% Go Now!  – Wow. From Parker Bench to Parker Lake be prepared to drop your jaw. You will find a mix of color from Patchy to Near Peak, to Peaking, to Past Peak, but overall it’s lovely. GO NOW!

MAMMOTH LAKES

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Mammoth has come into its own, with good color along Mammoth Creek Road and Sherwin Creek Road and among bright orange willows at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow Rd. (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – – McGee Creek Canyon is at full peak and has wonderful color right now while the road is still a bit patchy. GO NOW!

Around Crowley Community (6,781′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Poke around the community and you’ll find bright color there and along the hillsides beside U.S. 395. Take the “old US 395” road from McGee Creek to Tom’s Place for great views of the color change that’s occurring up the mountain. GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) – Convict Lake is a “must” stop this week. Colors are at their peak along the lake and up Convict Canyon. Take the 2.5 mile “Convict Lake Loop Trail” around the lake for a close up view of the leaves and different angles of Mt. Morrison. GO NOW!

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) –Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) –  – Wonderful color along the lower section of Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place. There are sections of great Yellows and Oranges while other areas above the lake may be past peak. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Road(7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%)