Yosemite National Park and Lassen Volcanic Park both have suggestions on their respective national park websites as to where to see fall color.
Where can I see fall colors? The best locations include; along the main road between Hot Rock and Devastated Area where aspens show off yellows and golds, Paradise Meadows, Hat Lake, Kings Creek Meadows, and the eastern shore of Butte Lake.
Where in Yosemite Promises Good Color?
A search for quaking aspen, for instance, can be found in some favorite glades within the park. Easy for leaf-peepers to drive by are roadside stands along the Tioga Road near the Tuolumne Grove trailhead and the Yosemite Creek picnic area, while more isolated aspens grow along the Glacier Point Road past Summit Meadow. Plus, consider a gentle walk along the old road from Badger Pass ski area to Bridalveil Creek Campground that leads to aspen groves. Read on for more suggestions on where to see fall color:
- Valley: Bigleaf maple might blend in with the oak woodlands most of the summer, but during the fall, its splash of yellow outlines riparian areas along the southern wall of Yosemite Valley from below Bridalveil Creek past Sentinel Creek and beyond Happy Isles. In general, look for mostly golden yellows to dark orange/brown on the black oaks; reds, pinks and yellow on the dogwoods; brilliant yellow on the black cottonwood; and reds, oranges and yellows on shrubs and low-growing herbaceous plants. Also, view a favorite fall tree: the non-native sugar maple that turns a brilliant red near the Yosemite Chapel.
- Glacier Point: Look for a lot of yellow, such as from deer brush yellows and low-growing shrubs and, in a few locations, the yellows and oranges from quaking aspen.
- Wawona: Look for mostly yellows and dark orange/browns on the black oaks; reds, pinks and yellow on the dogwoods; brilliant yellow on the bigleaf maple and black cottonwood; and reds, oranges and yellows on shrubs and low-growing herbaceous plants.
- Tuolumne: Look for oranges, yellows and reds from the low-growing vaccinium (grouseberry and whortleberry, for example) and other low-growing shrubs. A few small aspens, which would turn yellow, can be seen along the Highway 120 corridor.
- Certain Meadows: Some meadows might have Indian hemp that turns a bright yellow; bracken ferns that can turn yellow (often is just brownish); and some sedges and grasses that look golden.
- El Portal: Some willows along the riverbanks might turn yellow along with the Fremont and black cottonwoods. The oaks turn yellow to orange/brown, and the wild grape vines are yellow. Look for the beautiful reds of poison oak.
When Will Color Be at its Height in Yosemite This Year? Hard to predict, depending on light and weather. Usually in late October and, generally, lingering until the first heavy winter storms or hard frosts often in early December.