Virginia Lakes and Conway Summit – Go Now!

75 – 100% – Virginia Lakes (9,770′) – Carolyn Webb of the Virginia Lakes Resort reports that wind a couple of days ago “blew about 15% of the trees free of color, but it was not a huge loss.  We are in 75% yellow at the lakes, and should be total yellow in a couple more days.”

50 – 75% – Conway Summit (8.143′) – Carolyn continues that Conway Summit (US 395) “is a huge mix of yellow, lime and a few going into rust, but it is not near it’s peak yet.  Normal peak for Conway is around October 4 to 7th depending on the night temperatures.  We have not had a second burn of the leaves so should another wind storm show up it should not affect too much as they have to be in full yellow with spots to drop.”  Expect peak at Conway, next week.  Weather conditions permitting, Virginia Lakes will likely still have color, though it will be close to past peak.

Back to Brilliance in the Eastern Sierra – First Peak!

What a difference a week makes… Fall Color Spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort reports that “It’s officially fall color time in the Bishop Creek Canyon with brilliant color in many areas of the canyon. There are still several areas in the canyon which have yet to peak but there is a lot of color to be found anywhere over the 8500ft elevation mark.”

Wier Pond (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

50-75% – Weir Pond (9,592 ft) – While not peaking yet, the g

Cardinal Mine Grove (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

ve above the pond is showing brilliant yellow which contrasts beautifully with the remaining lime green aspen. The aspen at the shore of the pond are starting to turn but aren’t quite peaking yet. Still, the view from the dam side of the pond is stunning.


Parcher's Camp (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

50-75% – Parchers Camp (9,260 ft) – The hills to the south, west and east are beginning showing a lot of color, especially to the west where lots of yellow, orange and a little red are visible. Still a bit longer before we see peak color but it’s getting really good

North Lake Road (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

30-50% – North Lake (9,255 ft) – This is a difficult area to put a rating on right now because some areas are still completely green while others are actually at peak color. The grove on the west shore and the famous dirt road are both still pretty green but the approach to the lake by the first parking lot is absolutely on fire with bright yellow, orange and some red. Great photo ops available here right now and that will continue if the weather holds out.

Lake Sabrina (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

30-50% – Lake Sabrina (9,150 ft) – Lake Sabrina is changing fast but is still a ways away from full blown fall color. The east shore has a lot of gorgeous foliage at present. Look for things to really pop in the next week.

Sabina Camp Groves (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

75-100% – Sabrina Camp Groves (9,000 ft) – The grove adjacent to Sabrina Campground is incredibly beautiful right now and I would characterize it as peak color. Bright yellows, oranges and reds can be captured right along the roadside.

Surveyor's Meadow (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

75-100% – Surveyor’s Meadow – Gorgeous contrast between the bright yellows, oranges and lime greens at this spot right now. It isn’t quite peaking yet but the view is stunning.

Surveyor's Meadow (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

0-15% – Aspendell (8,500 ft) – No color developing here, yet.

50-75% – Cardinal Mine Grove (8,700 ft) – Lots of yellows and oranges to go along with some bright lime green. This vista is hard to beat with the peaks behind Sabrina in the background.

Table Mountain (9/28/2011) © 2011 Jared Smith

75-100% – Table Mountain Campground (8,900 ft) – This area went from nothing to near peak in seemingly no time. Tons of bright yellow and orange are visible from the road and the contrast with the redish rock and deep green pine is spectacular.

30-50% – Mountain Glen Campground – Bright yellow is steadily creeping down the mountain and along the creek. Some great photo ops to be had but the lower reaches of this area is still pretty green.


Alicia Vennos of Mono County reports that the high canyons (Virginia Lakes, Lundy and Rock Creek) are showing signs of color with about a fifth of the forest now transitioning from lime-green to yellow and orange aspen.  All across northern California, as here, the display is about a week behind normal schedule.

15-30% – Color spotter Carolyn Webb of the Virginia Lakes Resort reports the aspen around the Virginia Lakes are changing from lime green to yellow.

0-15% – Conway Summit – Still no sign of significant change.

0-15% – Convict Lake – Jen Heintzelman reports some coloring in the willows and ground cover around the lake a few aspen and cottonwood are now beginning to show, she’s predicting more action next week.


Rock Creek Canyon (9/29/2011) - © 2011 Amy King

15 – 30% – Rock Creek – Color spotter Alicia Vennos reports the aspen are coloring quickly with yellow and some orange starting even as low as Tom’s Place, though peak is still a week to two away.

Dog-friendly Fall Color – the website for advice on where to travel with your dog in Northern California – lists U.S. 395 “right up there” with Highway 1 as one of California’s most scenic highways, and in autumn, there’s no competition.  U.S. 395 is the color champion.  In recent editions, DogTrekker has reported on where to travel with Fido.  CLICK HERE for a link to those tips.

Additional tips come from color spotter Rachel Anderson of the Owens Valley who says that Bishop Creek Canyon offers many colorful dog-friendly trails.  She recommends heading first to South Lake, Sabrina Lake, the Tyee Lakes and Intake 2 up the canyon.  In a few weeks, look to the Bishop Canal System for walkable dirt roads beside canals and among colorful cottonwood in Bishop, Calif.

When taking your dog into the Inyo National Forest, be mindful to: leave disruptive dogs at home,  keep dogs leashed (not more than six feet in length) when on trails, bed dogs inside enclosed vehicles or tents at night and bring not more than two dogs camping.  Maps of hiking trails and walks in the forest are available at USFS Visitor Centers.  A dog rest area is located at Bishop City Park.

US 395 Among Nation’s Best Fall Color Drives

The national travel magazine Travel + Leisure, has rated the Eastern Sierra’s US 395 among the top dozen best fall color drives in the nation.  To read what the magazine reported, CLICK HERE.