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Fall Color in California Lasts for Months — A New Series With John Poimiroo

Image 1Correspondent John Poimiroo reports on travel and events in and around California and the West and our National Park system. But his passion is fall color in California. We’ll have this series of reports as long as color lasts. John’s website CaliforniaFallColor.com is the most accurate and comprehensive source for color in the state so we link to that with every report for far more information than we can feature here. Here’s a current report from John:

Brilliant reds among the aspen of the high eastern sierra is this week’s fall color story.  High winds may strip trees that have already turned color, though it should not affect those that haven’t.  The show continues to be best between 8,500’ and 10,000’ in elevation in the Eastern Sierra.  Richard McCutcheon also provides a folkloric prediction from Plumas County in this week’s report.

A dusting of snow last weekend coated upper peaks in white, providing colorful contrast for spectacular photographs.

More red and orange is being seen among quaking aspen, this year.  That’s unusual and a reason to travel now to see this special show.  (photos are available on request). One of the more spectacular areas reported is in Mono County along upper Green Creek Road, where quaking aspen are deep red and have covered the forest floor with a confetti of yellow, orange, green and red aspen leaves.

Here’s the latest from California’s color spotters.


Mono County

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Rock Creek Lake – Alicia writes, “Undaunted by recent wind and snow, the color shines on at Rock Creek in southern Mono County, particularly the upper section of Rock Creek Road at Rock Creek Lake where the red and orange hues are dazzling.”

GO NOW! – Mammoth Lakes– Color spotter Christie Osborne reports high areas surrounding Mammoth Lakes were dusted with a couple of inches of snow this past weekend, as an early storm passed over California.  The snow did little to change the steady progression of color at Mammoth Lakes, which has now begun to descend from the high country.  She reports, “More color is starting to show in Mammoth Lakes at the base of the Sherwin’s, in Town and at resort levels. Also look for color starting to break at the base of the Sherwins and near Sherwin Creek Campground, and expect to see more yellow flowing down canyons.”

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Above 8,500’- Now at full peak

GO NOW! – 50-75% – Approaching Peak – Elevations above 8,000

30-50%  – Elevations Above 7,000 – Lots of lime and yellow, some orange, more than half the forest has not yet changed color.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Virginia Lakes – The early snowfall on Saturday, Sept. 21 created the perfect backdrop to the fall color along Virginia Lakes Road.  Color spotter Bruce Wendler cautions that winds have stripped turned trees of their leaves, though he found beautiful color along the Dunderberg Meadow Rd.  High winds are the nemesis of turned trees and could affect color by the weekend among trees that have already turned.  High winds will mean, the show will drop by 500 to 1,000′ from the elevations at which they’re now appearing.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Green Creek Road – A  stand of astonishingly red aspen are to be viewed along upper Green Creek Road.  Take Virginia Lakes Road from the top of Conway Summit (US 395 between Lee Vining and Bridgeport) and watch for the sign to Green Creek Road to the right/north. Green Creek is a wide dirt road in excellent shape and the color is magnificent right now.  75% at upper elevations; 30% at lower elevations.

0 – 15% – Conway Summit – Still hovering at 15%, though keep track of reports, as this beautiful area can turn quickly once it begins to flush.

0 – 15% – June Lake Loop – The spectacular June Lake Loop is just starting to get into the spirit of the season — still mostly lime green and yellow — but colder temperatures in coming nights should act as the perfect catalyst to nudge the June Lake area along.  A dusting of snow on high peaks surrounding Silver Lake and the other June Lakes promises to provide some incredible scenes in coming weeks as the color turns below.

Inyo County

All areas above 8,500’ up the Bishop Creek Canyon (west of Bishop) are at full peak.  Areas between 8,000 and 8,500’ are approaching peak.


15 – 30% – Plumas County – Richard McCutcheon reports that the town buckeye has turned in Quincy and says, “When the buckeye tree changes, you know fall colors are not far away.”