Last Call: Parchers Resort

North Lake Rd., N Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/19) Jared Smith

Of all the years that has reported fall color from the Bishop Creek Canyon, 2019 sets a record for lasting to mid October with NO Past Peak areas.

Today’s is the fifth weekly report of autumn from Jared Smith of Parchers Resort. It is his last for this season. However, that does not mean color is past peak in Bishop Creek Canyon. It isn’t.

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/13/19) Pete Axcell

We estimate a week to two more of peak fall color up Bishop Creek, conditions permitting. will continue to post reports and photographs from Bishop Creek, as received. We encourage all color spotters who visit the canyon to send reports and photos to

To this master hospitalitarian and fall color expert, we extend best wishes to Jared for a winter on a beach somewhere, with a cold one in hand and a beautiful sunset lighting the horizon.

Here are Jared’s last words on this durable autumn, “What a wonderful stroke of luck we’ve had with the weather this year! The early cold snap at the end of September and the wind that came with it, only dulled the earliest of the fall color and the last couple windy days haven’t done much damage leaving the majority of the aspen and willow leaves to sit in glowing splendor about as long as one could hope.

“Rarely are we taking pictures of vistas with this much fall color this late into October. Many areas have groves which have already peaked and are losing leaves but wherever the early color fades, more yellow and occasional orange or red seems to fill our views to take it’s place.

“It is still absolutely spectacular out there right now and we’re in the zone where both the upper and mid elevations of the canyon are bursting with color.

For those who can get up to Parchers before it closes this coming weekend, there are still three cabins and two RV sites unsold (2-night minimum). Call 760-873-4177 to book a cabin.

Bishop Creek Canyon Summaries

  • Above 8,500′ – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Bishop Creek Canyon is still extremely impressive in the higher reaches of the canyon. Table Mountain Camp and Surveyor’s Meadow were at their best last week, but there is still so much color along the road and canyon walls that the canyon can still be considered very much at Peak. Some high points are the road between Parchers & South Lake, the east facing canyon walls near Willow camp, Sabrina and the North Lake Road. 
  • Below 8,500′ – Patchy (10-50%) – Pretty much the whole drive up from the South Lake turnoff up South Lake Road or Hwy 168 towards Sabrina is at Peak. Some areas are still too green to be peak, but enough peak color dominates in the 8,000′ to 8,500′ elevation that now is about as good as it gets for this zone. The falls, Mt. Glen campground, Cardinal Village & pond and Bishop Park group campground just below Aspendell are looking exquisite. 
Mist Falls, S Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/19) Jared Smith

South Fork Bishop Creek

  • Weir Pond (9,650′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – The canyon wall to the west is mostly naked, but the foliage surrounding the pond is a show stopper, especially in the morning hours or mid day.
  • Parchers Resort (9,260′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – The hillsides all around the resort are epic. Rosy orange hues and plenty of yellow. 
  • Willow Campground (9,000′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Some of the aspen lining the road are past peak, but the canyon walls beyond the campground and the large trees lining the So. Fork of Bishop Creek are amazing. Some really nice orange hues can be seen from here.
  • Surveyors Meadow (8,975′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Another area that was probably better last week, but there is a lot of peak color to see.
  • Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Some of the aspen are now naked here, but there’s enough color to make it worth a stop.
  • Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The aspen surrounding the waterfall are at the pinnacle of their fall color brilliance. 
  • Four Jeffries (8,000′) –– Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Lots of color variance here…gold, yellow, orange, red, green and brown.
  • Big Trees Campground and Forks Campground (7,800′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Lots of trees turning here but the color is a little bronzey for my taste. It will be interesting to see if we get any intense yellow from here this year.
Cardinal Pond, M Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/19) Jared Smith

Middle Fork Bishop Creek

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – The color is really lasting at Sabrina this year. Simply stunning.
  • Sabrina Campground to Sabrina Dam (9,000′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – Brilliant gold and yellow all the way from the North Lake turnoff to Sabrina. The area by the entrance of Sabrina campground was earlier to peak and first to fade, but everywhere else is loaded with color.
  • Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – The scrub aspen are mostly toast, but the more mature aspen along the middle fork of Bishop Creek are amazing right now.
  • Aspendell (8,400′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – This was tough to grade because the aspen in the neighborhood along hwy 168 aren’t all that special, but  the groves just below at Bishop Park Group Camp are amazing, as is the color at the south end of Aspendell near Cardinal Village Resort
North Lake, N Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/19) Jared Smith

North Fork Bishop Creek

  • North Lake (9,255′) – Peak (75%-100%) GO NOW! – One shoreline is pretty devoid of color, but the more popular views looking up canyon from the outlet are still in the peak zone. The quaint dirt road, one of my favorite spots in the canyon because the light is basically dummy proof, is peaking and provides the post card photo op everyone wants to get.

Near Peak – Upper Bishop Creek At Peak – Upper Rock Creek

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Color spotter Alena Nicholas planned a trip to Bishop Creek Canyon on the day of the autumnal equinox, texting these mobile phone shots of color from Lake Sabrina, Weir Pond and the upper S. Fork where fall color is Near Peak.

Lake Sabrina is demonstrating the family nature of aspen with some stands still green and lime-colored, while others are at full peak in glorious tones of red, orange and yellow. Float fishermen drift across the lake’s wind-brushed surface.

At Weir Pond, between Parcher’s Resort and South Lake and along upper S. Fork, Bishop Creek, aspen now vary from Near Peak to full Peak. A rocky hillside of stunted aspen that forms a backdrop to the shaded pond is a mix of brightly lit yellow and lime. Fly fishing anglers cast for wary trout upon the pond’s still water. (Click photos to enlarge)

Clayton Peoples agreed with Alena Nicholas that Upper Bishop Creek is Near Peak, at least at the highest reaches. He stated, “It all depends on elevation.” On Saturday, he found the color Lake Sabrina and along the road to North Lake. But other areas–including North Lake–have yet to display much color.”

That means Bishop Creek “should remain a great color destination for at least the coming week or two as color works its way down,” Clayton concluded.

He also visited Upper Rock Creek and the trails to Hilton Creek and the Little Lakes Valley, to declare them at full peak and absolutely stunning.

Change happens quickly in the Eastern Sierra and that’s happened within half a week at the highest elevations of these two canyons.

Within a few days, Upper Rock Creek has evolved from Patchy to Peak. While the two areas should continue to improve, you’ve got two weeks at most to see the high areas of these two canyons at peak.

Lake Sabrina is a day or two from being at Peak, and Rock Creek Lake is already there. If these two areas are on your must see at peak list, GO NOW! 

Bishop Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Rock Creek Lake, Hilton Creek and Little Lakes Valley Trail – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Weir Pond, S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/22/18) Alena Nicholas

Lake Sabrina, Sunrise (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

North Lake Rd. (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

Upper Rock Creek (9/22/18) Clayton Peoples

Aspen, Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi

Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi

Lake Sabrina (9/22/18) Toru Takahashi











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Record-Breaking Heat: Is Autumn Even Close?

Quaking Aspen, Agate Bay, North Lake Tahoe (9/4/17) John Poimiroo

With California experiencing record-breaking temperatures statewide this past week (Death Valley recorded 129.72 degrees – tying its previous record), one has to wonder whether all that hot air will delay the appearance of fall color.

There was certainly little of it to be seen in the Northern Sierra this past weekend. On a getaway at North Lake Tahoe, only a few spots of color could be found.

So, I called Parcher’s Resort at 9,290′ near South Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon (Inyo County), which is about the highest and earliest reporting location in our network of color spotters. The desk clerk at Parchers (Jared Smith was out fishing, lucky guy) said “just tiny splotches of yellow” can be seen in the aspen groves that surround the resort and along South Lake Road.

As can be seen in this photo, the aspen appear to be healthy and vibrant. Last winter’s heavy snowfall has kept them nourished. So, when they do begin turning lime, yellow, orange, pink and red, the show should be long-lasting and brilliant.

Soon, the hot days of summer will vanish and the golden days of autumn will be here.

Bishop Creek Canyon – Just Starting

June Lake – Just Starting

Ebbett’s Pass – Just Starting

Lake Tahoe – Just Starting

Shasta Cascade – Just Starting

Big Bear/So. Calif – Just Starting


Bishop Creek Canyon: More Yellow Every Day

Weir Pond, South Fork, Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Weir Pond, South Fork, Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Jared Smith from Parcher’s Resort near South Lake up Bishop Creek Canyon rates Bishop Creek as “Patchy” with “a lot of color starting to show in the higher reaches of the canyon with more yellow popping up every day.”

This week, Bishop Creek experienced its “first true cold snap since May… with a few snow flurries and evening temps dipping into the high 20s. It definitely feels like Fall, all of a sudden.”

Jared’s first report each autumn is highly anticipated by readers. He’s holding his breath writing, “It will be interesting to see how this cooler weather affects the color over the next week.”

Overall Conditions Between 7500ft & 8500ft Elevation

Just Starting (0% – 10%)

Noticeable lightening of the aspens is occurring in many of the lower reaches of the canyon, but very little color is showing.

Sabrina Camp, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Sabrina Camp, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Above Parcher's Resort, South Fork Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Above Parcher’s Resort, South Fork Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Table Mountain, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Table Mountain, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Middle Fork Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Middle Fork Bishop Creek (9/14/16) Jared Smith

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Weir Pond (9650ft)

The hillside above the Weir is showing quite a bit of yellow but the foliage surrounding the pond itself is still a week or more off from showing anything too impressive.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Sabrina Campground (9000ft)

There was little surprise here as the first solid patches of brilliant orange hues popped up along Hwy 168 just below Sabrina Campground. This is almost always the earliest place to truly develop, but thankfully within the campground itself the aspen are still very green with just a few yellow leaves here and there.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Parchers Resort (9260ft)

Brilliant yellows are developing on the canyon walls all around the resort, and even a few of the aspen on the resort grounds are beginning to turn or have turned.

Patchy (10 – 50%)  – Willow Campground (9000ft)

This barely deserved this  rating but there is just enough yellow to consider this area patchy.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft)

There is a bit of color showing within the campground but the best of it, which is pretty impressive for this early on, is just below the campground on the eastern canyon wall just above the So. Fork of Bishop Creek.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft)

There is a lot of color showing here, but there’s plenty of green too. Still, there are some photo-worthy views right now. Look for this to really go off in the next week to 10 days.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Lake Sabrina (9150ft)

Patchy color on the eastern shore and near the back of the lake but we’ve got a ways to go before the lake shows it’s best fall  color display.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – North Lake (9255ft)

Most of the color at North Lake is on the approach to the lake with the road and western slope still mostly green. This area tends to change quick so we’re anxious to see how things look a week from now.

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft)

Just a couple early bloomers around this famous waterfall. I don’t expect much out of this area until near the end of September depending on how the weather ends up.

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Aspendell (8400ft)

Very few signs of color here right now.

Patchy (10 – 50%)  – Groves above Cardinal Village (8550ft)

The canyon slope from above Cardinal Village up to Cardinal Pinnacle has tons of yellow showing already, it was actually quite surprising. Still, the color is pretty localized and will no doubt get much better in the coming weeks.

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Four Jeffries (8000ft)

Nothing but a few yellow branches showing right now.

Patchy – (10 – 50%) – Intake II (8000ft)

The aspen surrounding the lake are still hosting their summer shade of green although the scrub aspen growing up the mountainside are showing a little yellow.

Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Big Trees Campground (7800ft)

Nothing but green here right now.


Getting Close Above 8,500′

Bishop Creek Canyon Overall Conditions
Patchy (10 – 50%)

“Although color in the higher reaches of the Bishop Creek Canyon has arrived a bit earlier than we’re used to seeing,” Color Spotter Jared Smith of the Parchers Resort reports, the difference between last week and this week was only obvious in a few areas with many areas still holding strong to the green of summer. Once you rise above the 8000ft elevation, lime green with some touches of yellow start to appear and once you get over 8500ft, the color is really starting to show in significant patches of aspen. Beyond 9000ft there is quite a bit of color but not much in the way of peak color.

Wier Pond (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Wier Pond (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Wier Pond (9,650′) The foliage along the road and stream is mostly green but some select braches and trees are a brilliant yellow. The hillside above and to the west of the pond is showing significantly more yellow than last week but still a ways off from what we typically see at peak.

Sabrina Campground (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Sabrina Campground (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Sabrina Campground (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Sabrina Campground (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Sabrina Campground (9,000′) A difficult area to grade since the color along Hwy 168 East tends to pop and peak first while the larger old growth aspen along the middle fork of Bishop Creek that meanders through the campground tend to come on later. The trees along the hwy are already well on their way with some gorgeous yellow, orange and red hues to go along with some aspen in full green not yet started. As expected, the campground has a touch of lime but very little yellow.

Tabel Mountain Camp (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Tabel Mountain Camp (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) There are significant patches of yellow showing here already but we’re a ways off from the spectacular color we’re used to seeing in this area in late September.

Suyrveyor's Meadow (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Suyrveyor’s Meadow (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Surveyor’s Meadow (8,975′)While the colors have progressed slightly over the past 7 days, there is still plenty of green yet to turn with some bright patches of yellow crawling down the mountain.

Lake Sabrina (9/10/14) Jaered Smith

Lake Sabrina (9/10/14) Jaered Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Lake Sabrina (9,150′) Lake Sabrina is one location where the color is poised to really bust loose in the next week. The groves towards the inlet side of the lake are really starting to turn and the smaller groves along the east shore are as well. Mostly yellow is showing with a touch of orange, especially across from the boat landing.

North Lake (9/10/14) Jared Smith

North Lake (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – North Lake (9,255′)Lots of variety at North Lake with some of the smaller scrub aspen near the first parking area already brilliant orange and yellow while the famous dirt road stretch looks like July still. The mountain above the lake, known for lots of orange with some red during the peak, is just now turning yellow in substantial patches. I’d be willing to bet it’s going to be go-time for fall color at North Lake in the next 7 to 10 days if the weather holds out.

Mt Glen Camp (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Mt Glen Camp (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Steiny Loop &  Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft) 
Not much going on yet in this area, just a few small patches of brilliant yellow amongst a sea of green.

Mist Falls and The Groves (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Mist Falls and The Groves (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) A few touches of yellow just to the right of the waterfall is about all that is going on at this location, by far one of the most popular stops on any fall color tour of the Bishop Creek area.

Aspendell (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (9/10/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Aspendell (8,400′) Some lime green starting to develop in this charming little mountain community but the vast majority of the area is nearly as green as summertime.

Groves above Cardinal Village (9/10/14)

Groves above Cardinal Village (9/10/14)

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) As green as Aspendell is, it’s surprising that just a half mile above the community there is significant color. The trees on the slopes above Cardinal Village and Cardinal Mine to the south and east are really turning yellow fast. This is going to be one of the first go-now locations.

Additional reports from Parchers Camp, Four Jefferies Camp, Intake II, Big Trees Camp, and more in the coming weeks. As of now all of these areas at or below 8,000ft are all Just Starting (0 – 10%) of peak color.

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Brilliant Yellow and Touch of Orange

Weir Pond (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Weir Pond (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Color Spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort provides the first comprehensive report of autumn, today. Jared notes that historically there hasn’t been much to report on Sept. 5, though this season has been “surprising on many levels, including an early start to the autumn colors.” He continues, “While the majority of aspen and willow are still deep, dark green, many of the trees have started turning with some brilliant yellow and a touch of orange” showing in the Eastern Sierra’s Bishop Creek Canyon. He writes that with a third year of drought, “it’s impossible to predict when the peak color will show, but with higher than average precipitation during summer, we’re hopeful that fall color, despite an early start, will offer spectacular photographic opportunities throughout September and into early or mid October.”

Aspen, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Aspen, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Wier Pond (9,650′) “One of the most scenic locations in the Bishop Creek Canyon is Weir Pond. We’re used to seeing some of the first color of the season here but for whatever reason, there isn’t much happening yet, somewhat of a surprise given the color developing down canyon. A few select branches are in full color but the aspen around the pond and on the mountain above the pond to the west are still mostly green.”

Sabrina Campground (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Sabrina Campground (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Sabrina Campground (9,000′) One of the first places to find peak color is just below the entrance to Sabrina Campground on Hwy 168, especially on the eastern wall of the canyon.  As expected, this area has a lot of aspen turning and some of them even have a bit of orange and red hues.

Table Mountain Camp (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Table Mountain Camp (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) A surprising amount of color is already visible in the groves just above and below Table Mountain Group Campground.  The aspen along the road and the camp itself are still green, but the dark green of summer has definitely lightened to a more bright lime green.

Surveyor's Meadow (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Surveyor’s Meadow (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Surveyor’s Meadow (8,975′) Another area that is really ahead of the game is Surveyor’s Meadow. The hillsides above and around Surveyor’s Meadow are already exhibiting some beautiful yellow and gold. It will be interesting to see how things progress here in the coming weeks.

Lake Sabrina (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Lake Sabrina (9,150′) Despite the drought, water managers have been able to store a fair amount of water in the reservoir at Sabrina adding to the beauty. The groves directly across the lake from the store & café are turning yellow, as are the groves to the west above the main inlet towards the back of the lake. There is still a lot of color on deck but folks could realistically get some exceptional photos now if they wanted. With the 10 day forecast similar to what we’d see during the summer, the color should continue to develop over the next several weeks.

North Lake (9/3/14) Jared Smith

North Lake (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – North Lake (9,255′) The North Lake area has a bit of color, especially on the hillside above the pack station, but the road is still green as can be. This area has a tendency to turn quickly so we’ll be watching closely to see how things progress around this beautiful high country lake. Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Steiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) This is somewhat of a sleeper spot for photographers being that these groves are along a dirt road off of South Lake Road. A few aspens have branches that are turning but the majority of the trees are still green, albeit a bit lighter shade of green than we typically see in the summer. Judging by the lime green leaves, I would expect to see some significant color in the next week to 10 days.

Mist Falls and Groves (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Mist Falls and Groves (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) Not much color here but there are a few trees that are ahead of the game and showing some yellow. The trees in this area tend to peak late in September or even early to mid October so it’s no surprise that there isn’t much going on yet. Just Starting – 0 – 10% – Aspendell (8,400′) Another area that tends to peak later is the small community of Aspendell. There is little to no color around the neighborhood as of today.

Groves above Cardinal Village (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Groves above Cardinal Village (9/3/14) Jared Smith

Patchy – 10 – 50% – Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) As green as Aspendell is, it’s surprising that just a half mile above the community there is significant color already. The trees on the east slope above Cardinal Village are already turning yellow. One of the best views in the canyon can be captured from a turnout just above Aspendell.

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Such a Deal!

Parcher's Resort (10/11/12) Krisdina Karady

Parcher’s Resort (10/11/12) Krisdina Karady

A great place to base fall color viewing trips in Bishop Creek Canyon is Parcher’s Resort.  Not only is their staff the most knowledgeable about where the best fall color viewing can be found, but the resort offers all sorts of deals in autumn.  Here’s this fall’s list:

  • Fall RV Special – Stay 5 nights at regular price get 2 more nights FREE in any RV site from September 20th through October 19th
  • Mountain Cabin Weekly Special – Beginning Sept. 1st Stay 5 nights in Cabin 21, 22 or 23 and get 2 more nights FREE and one breakfast voucher for up to 4 persons!
  • Photographers Retreat – Rent 6 or more Cabins for at least 3 nights and get 10% off your stay and complimentary use of our store meeting facility from 11am til 6pm daily and 25% off a private dinner in our dining room (12 persons minimum). Offer valid September 15th through October 15th
  • Hiker’s Heaven – Stay 3 nights in any Hiker Cabin between Sept. 1st and October 19th, and get your 4th night FREE.

Call 760-873-4177 to take advantage of these special deals.

At left is a photo taken of Parcher’s last October, following an early dusting of snow.

Parchers Last Report – Beauty Still To Be Seen

South Lake Road (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

Jared Smith, Krisdina Karady and the team at Parchers Resort in the Eastern Sierra (South Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon) go out with a bang on this, their final report of 2012.  Our deep thanks are expressed to Jared and his team for more than a month of great reports.  Here’s his last, though it doesn’t mean the color has ended in the Eastern Sierra.

Overall Conditions above 8500ft

The majority of the color above 8500ft is now past its prime or gone entirely but there are still glimpses of beauty to be had in a few groves in the 8500 to 9000ft level, especially above Willow Camp and behind Table Mountain Campground.

Overall Conditions below 8500ft

Peak color is upon us in the 8000ft to 8500ft range, especially near Aspendell and along the South Fork Bishop Creek by Bishop Creek Lodge. The forecast looks cold and breezy next week so it’s anyone’s guess if it will hold out but as of today, it is spectacular.

75-100% – South Lake Rd above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft)

Mostly past peak, but still a lot of nice creek shots with some yellow, orange and a little red to be found.

Mt Glen Camp (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Mountain Glen Campground (8400ft)

This area is right about the cutoff from peak color to past peak. Some thick groves of old growth aspen are really putting on a show here. Along with the Bishop Creek Lodge area, this is possibly the finest color in the canyon at present.

Mist Falls (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft)

This area is brilliant and in full peak color with lots of yellow and some orange as well. Stunning views of these groves this week.

The Groves (10/19/12) Krisdina Karady

75-100% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell (8550ft)

Its go-time in Aspendell as the aspen are putting on a real show. Best on the middle fork.

75-100%% – Forks Campground (8000ft – 8300ft)

There is one spectacular grove of Aspen just below Intake II and just above Forks Campground. A very unique rock formation above the campground makes for some very interesting opportunities for the avid photographer.

Past Peak – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft)

A few stands of Aspen left, especially if you walk into the campground to view the grove east towards the peaks but the majority of the aspen have lost their leaves.

Past Peak – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft)

Not much left here, just a few trees left showing some rosy hues and yellow.

Past Peak – Willow Campground (9100ft)

Most of the color found along the roadside last week is completely gone however there is still some great stuff if you go into the campground and walk from there towards Parchers Resort along the old road. Still some great cottonwoods and aspen with brilliant yellow and there are a few bright red snowberry bushes on the granite cliffs offering a very cool contrast between granite, aspen and red brush.

Past Peak – Lake Sabrina (9150ft)

Pretty much done for the season.

Past Peak – North Lake (9255ft)

Not much left at the lake but the view from above looking down on Aspendell is still worth a Look.

All Photographs Copyright 2012 by Jared Smith, or courtesy of fall color contributor Krisdina Karady.

Dramatic Change in the High Sierra – Go Now!

Color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort near South Lake reports dramatic change of color up Bishop Creek Canyon in the Eastern Sierra.  Here’s his report:

North Lake Road, Inyo County (9/28/12) Jared Smith

Overall Conditions (above 8,500ft) – There is such a drastic difference in color between the higher reaches of the canyon and the lower that I decided to go ahead split the overview into two sections for the remainder of our fall color reports. So, above the 8500ft level, many areas have drastically changed from last week with many groves going from green to peak color in just over one week’s time… incredible. Plenty of yellow with touches of orange, rose, and red showing both on the middle fork of Bishop Creek towards Sabrina as well as around North Lake. Brilliant yellows and oranges are dominating the So. Fork Bishop with probably the most vibrant groves showing between Mountain Glen Campground and Weir Pond.

Overall Conditions (below 8,500ft) – A little yellow popping here and there with considerable lightening of the aspen and cottonwoods from dark forest green to lime green. Look for this to improve vastly in the next week.

Table Mountain Camp (9/28/12) Jared Smith

75-100% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900ft) – The hill is on fire with much of the aspen displaying the full glory of autumn color. Still some late bloomers in the mix making for a great mix of  yellow, lime green and orange.

Surveyor’s Meadow (9/28/12) Jared Smith

75-100% – Surveyors Meadow (8,975ft) – Another area that really popped this week is Surveyor’s meadow aproximately a mile down from Parchers Resort. Color is splashed from the creekside trail all the way up the mountain to near the Tyee Lakes trail. Still some green left to turn but I would guess this area to be at peak color next week.

50-75% – Lake Sabrina (9,150ft) – Lake Sabrina continues to put on a show, especially the grove across from the café which is notorious for showing some of the most vibrant red in the canyon.


North Lake (9/29/12) Jared Smith

75-100% – North Lake (9,255ft) – I have never seen such a quick transformation as I’ve seen at North Lake since last week. Even day by day the color is popping everywhere. Some of the aspen which were green last week are peaking or even slightly past peak. Still, plenty of gorgeous yellow along the famous North Lake Road along the lake as well as near the campground entrance. The grove that popped first below the first parking lot is starting to fade but there is a lot of great color surrounding the lake and up into the campground.

75-100% – Steiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600ft) – This is kind of a sleeper spot as the dirt road accessing this beautiful stretch of aspen growth is easy to miss. Still, if you keep an eye out to your left about a mile past Mountain Glen Campground you should find it. The aspen all along the creek and on either side of the road are at or very near peak color….spectacular.

30-50% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350ft) – Not much going on last week but as was the case in much of the canyon, this is a very different week with color developing quickly.

0-15% – Aspendell (8400ft) – It’s a bit surprising given the color just a mile up the road but the aspen in and around this small community on the middle fork of Bishop Creek is still green as green can be. This is a good thing there is plenty of color now and it would be nice to have some more areas developing great fall color in the coming weeks.

50-75% – Groves above Cardinal Village (8550ft) – Brilliant color dominates the vista from just above Aspendell with the crest in the background and plenty of yellow and some orange in the foreground. This area is much closer to the 75% rating and may very well peak within the week. Gorgeous views driving up Hwy 168 towards Lake Sabrina

Jared promises additional reports from Four Jeffery Camp, Intake II, Big Trees Camp next week – all of which are currently at 0-15% of peak color.  To plan a trip to Inyo County, visit


Lundy Canyon (9/29/12) Alicia Vennos

Alicia Vennos of Mono County (Eastern Sierra) advises that though an area may have a low overall percent change, pockets of color within an area may be peaking, so don’t avoid visiting an area just because a lower percentage of change is being reported.   Here’s an example of this phenomenon from Lundy Canyon.

0 – 15% – Lower Lundy Canyon – At lower elevations from 7,000 – 8,000 feet, the aspen are still largely green, just starting to turn lime to yellow.  Lower Lundy Canyon, Lower Rock Creek and the famous June Lake Loop (Hwy. 158)  have only just begun to show the change.  However, elevations above 8,500′ are peaking.


Lundy Lake (9/29/12) Alicia Vennos

75 – 100% – Lundy Lake – At Lundy Lake, the color is above 75%, but as you drive higher to the trailhead, the aspen are still very green — with some completely past peak and everywhere in between!

Lundy Canyon Beaver Pond (9/29/12) Alicia Vennos

30 – 50-% – Lundy Canyon Trailhead – At the Lundy Canyon trailhead, aspen above the beaver dam are at 40% of peak

Lundy Canyon Avalanche Zone (9/29/12) Alicia Vennos

75 – 100% – Lundy Canyon Avalanche Zone – Gnarled aspen in the avalanche zone are at peak with many already past.

Mono County waterfalls are still running. (9/29/12) Alicia Vennos

75 – 100% – Canyons above 8,500 feet – the colors are peaking or approaching peak.  Rock Creek, McGee Creek (upper trail at first stream crossing) and Virginia Lakes (9,000′) are all approaching peak.  Below 8,500′, the colors are two weeks from peak.

15 – 30% – Lower McGee Creek –Color spotter Whitney Lennon sends photos taken along McGee Creek, south of Mammoth Lakes (off U.S. 395).  She says Lower McGee Creek has a way to go, perhaps two weeks to peak.

McGee Creek (9/28/12) Dustin Osborne

McGee Creek (9/28/12) Dustin Osborne

50 – 75% – Conway Summit – Approaching peak.

Planning a trip to Mono County:  Alicia suggests now’s the time to plan a trip to see the always-wonderful June Lake Loop.  Don’t wait until we report “Go Now!” or you may miss it entirely.  Her advice is sound in that we measured significant change up Bishop Creek Canyon this past week.  Those holding off visiting until later are likely to be disappointed.   A central site for lodging and camping suggestions is  Additional lodging suggestions are found at

To get to Mono County, drive US 395 along the Eastern Sierra or from LAX, fly direct to Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) on Alaska Airlines.


Big Changes at Bishop Creek – Go Now!

What a difference a week makes.  Color spotter Jared Smith of the Parchers Resort near South Lake (Bishop Creek Canyon) reports impressive change this week with color exceeding 50% in several areas.  Here’s his report and comparative photos of the change.

30-50% Overall Conditions – Really impressive change in the amount and intensity of the fall color throughout the canyon since last week. Still lots of green below 9,000 ft but the color is coming on really fast at the higher reaches of the canyon and some of the groves are looking very brilliant. Barring any adverse weather, now through mid October is the zone for those who enjoy the autumn speander. Due to the elevation variance our canyon is tough to put an overall grade on but its certainly safe to say that starting now, there is a great amount of color to be seen.


Table Mountain Campground (9/21/12) Krisdina Karady

50-75% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900 ft) – Incredible transformation from last week with with well over half of the aspen in this grove exhibiting  bright yellow and some orange. Still some greenery left to turn but this is one of the nicest areas right now.

Surveyor’s Meadow (9/20/12) Krisdina Karady

50-75% – Surveyors Meadow (8,975 ft) – Another area that really popped this week is Surveyor’s meadow aproximately a mile down from Parchers Resort. Color is splashed from the creekside trail all the way up the mountain to near the Tyee Lakes trail. Still some green left to turn but I would guess this area to be at peak color next week.

Creekside path above Surveyor’s Meadow (9/20/12) Krisdina Karady

Lake Sabrina (9/20/12) Krisdina Karady

30-50% – Lake Sabrina (9,150 ft) – Lake Sabrina really went off this week with a drastic change in color. Still a bit off the best peak color I’ve seen there but it certainly breathtaking even right now. The water level is a bit low this year due to the weak winter we had but the aspens clearly don’ t seem to mind.0-15% – North Lake (9,255 ft) – Still not much happening at North Lake yet with exception to the lower parking lot which has a nice stand of trees showing a bunch of bright yellow.

50-75% – Steiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600 ft) – This is kind of a sleeper spot as the dirt road accessing this beautiful stretch of aspen growth is easy to miss. Still, if you keep an eye out to your left about a mile past Mountain Glen Campground you should find it. Very even yellow with some orange hues coming through as well. This is certainly near the higher end of the range – somewhere close to 75% and will likely be in peak color come next week.

All Photographs Copyright 2011 by Jared Smith, or courtesy of fall color contributors Krisdina Karady.