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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 19, 2012

Eastern Sierra Nevada Fall Color Updates 10/19/12

The Sacramento Bee Reports that :

the fall leaf color in the Eastern Sierra is spectacular this weekend. More areas have turned to their peak autumn colors this last week than is normal.

Go to their Interactive Map Fall Leaves to see exactly which areas are at peak, which are past and which are still turning. It covers many fall color spots throughout the eastern Sierra Nevada.

Parcher’s Resort had the following fall color report for the Bishop Creek Canyon area for 10/19/12:

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 its anyone’s guess if it will hold out but as of today, its 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.

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.

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.

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.

PastPeak – 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.

Inyo National Forest published the following fall color update dated 10/17/12:

Inyo National Forest and Eastern Sierra Fall Colors

The Inyo National Forest has wonderful displays of fall colors from late September through the month of October.  The glacier carved canyons adjacent to US Highway 395 are home to colorful aspen groves which provide an impressive contrast with rich green pine forests and dramatic granite walls.

In general, aspen groves and willows, around 8,000 feet, are producing a great display.  The canyons from Lundy in the north, to Bishop Creek in the south, all have pockets of fully developed fall colors.  Now is the time to visit the Eastern Sierra.  Many locations are at full peak.  The mountains have received their first dusting of snow last weekend, adding to a photographer’s delight.  Trees above 9,000 feet have lost their leaves.  Due to a dry spring and summer, peak shows are relatively short in duration (5 – to 7 days).

Lundy Canyon (10 miles north of Lee Vining on SR 167) within a short drive leads to striking fall displays, gold to orange, orange to red.  Now is the time for a visit.  Trees at higher elevations in the canyon are almost past their peak, with groves below the trailhead presenting a delightful array.

Bishop Creek
Photo Courtesy Debbie McLaughlin of Inyo National Forest.

This weekend June Lake Loop (west on SR 158) will arguably be the best show of the Eastern Sierra.  The combination of water and foliage is tough to beat for photographic qualities.   This loop of the “California’s Alps” is beautiful year round, but especially stunning in the fall.

Mammoth Lakes has developed a change of color over the last week.  Check the progression of color in the Lakes Basin.  Trees are now spotty yellow to gold, with the promise of orange to come this weekend.

Bishop Creek (west of Bishop on SR 168), continues to produce fine photographic opportunities.  Check the areas around Aspendell, Parchers and Mountain Glen for exceptionally beautiful displays

Aspen Leaves, Mono County
Photo Courtesy Alicia Vennos of Mono County Tourism Commission

The communities of Mono and Inyo counties offer a wide variety of accommodations and eating establishments to meet the needs of visitors viewing and photographing the fall show.  Temperatures are cool in the morning and warmer in the afternoon, dressing in layers will make it easy to adjust to changing conditions.  Also, drink plenty of water at high elevations.

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