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. 


Fall Color Guide and Map

Fall Color Guide & Map

Fall Color Guide & Map

Eastern Sierra destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have again published a comprehensive guide to fall color along US 395, a route named by USA Weekend as “one of the USA’s five best road trips.”

California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide & Map lists major annual events, significant fall color plants, and directs color spotters to 21 locations along US 395 from Big Pine to Topaz where spectacular fall color can be viewed.

The publication can be obtained at Mono County and Inyo County websites and visitor centers or CLICK HERE.

New Interactive Map

New for 2014 is the California Fall Color Map seen at left.  This interactive map is exclusive to and provides a quick way to see where the color is changing in California and at what stage.

Non-reporting areas appear in dark green.  All reporting areas have leaves in light green, yellow, orange, red or brown, depending on the fall color’s stage of development. This new scale matches that used by The Weather Channel: Just starting, patchy, near peak, peak and past peak. The colors are based on reports received from volunteer color spotters located throughout California.

Anyone can be a color spotter.  Just email a current report to editor(at) stating where the fall color is seen, at what stage the color is (just starting, patchy, near peak, peak, past peak), your name and – if you have one – a current photograph of what you’re reporting.  We’ll publish the report with credit attributed to you.

Each Thursday morning from the first day of autumn to Thanksgiving Day, we send summaries of each week’s reports to media across California (every TV meteorologist and all travel and outdoor reporters) based on reports received from our network of color spotters.  The best photos could appear, with credit, in newspapers or on TV.

Though no color is yet appearing, our first report this year is from St. Helena in the Napa Valley where Brian Baker of the Chateau Montelena winery notes that an early harvest is expected.  That could mean an earlier show of fall color in the vineyards.