This weekend’s fall color destination: Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra

Rock Creek area, Eastern Sierra

Rock Creek, just south of Mammoth Lakes on Highway 395, shows aspens that have turned to gold. The photo was taken last weekend, so go soon or you’ll miss the show.

(Josh Wray/ Visit Mammoth)

It's fall, and Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra is one of those sweet spots for fall colors. Starting last weekend, the aspens in the area south of Mammoth Lakes have erupted in color.

You can hike in Lower Rock Creek or drive about nine miles from Highway 395 into a stunning canyon lined with aspens and wind up at Rock Creek Lake. While you're there, check out McGee Creek Canyon and Convict Lake a little farther north.

"Make plans within the next 10 days AT THE MOST to see this area in all its brilliance," the Mono County Fall Colors website posted on Sept. 17.

(Josh Wray/ Visit Mammoth)

If you want to linger a bit, here are some places to stay.

 Tamarack Lodge in Mammoth Lakes offers a fall colors stay that includes a two-hour boat rental, two-for-one bicycle rentals and breakfast. If you go soon, you'll find a two-bedroom cabin for Friday and Saturday nights costs $978 for both days, and a one-bedroom cabin for Sunday and Monday nights costs $498 for both days.

Tom's Place Resort, built in 1917, is 15 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, right near Rock Creek. You can rent a room in the main lodge for $65 to $75 a night, or a rustic cabin for $80 to $140 a night. Call to make a reservation; (760) 935-4239 or e-mail

And here are hikes that offer plenty of opportunities for leaf-peeping:

The lobby at Tamarack Lodge. (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

—Take a walk along the Mosquito Flats Trailhead at the end of Rock Creek Road. At 10,300 feet, you can hike up Little Lakes Valley, which offers great views, and continue all the way to 12,000-foot Mono Pass (if you're feeling like a big workout).

—Start at the Hilton Lakes/Davis Lake Trailhead about a quarter-mile below the Rock Creek Pack Station. You can hike in to a string of lakes, the first one being about six miles in. So bring water and snacks with you.

—Start off on the Tamarack Trailhead (it may be hard to find; feel free to ask for directions at Rock Creek Lodge) to hike this quiet, sandy trail that starts off steep and leads away from Rock Creek Lake. Do the whole 10 miles and you'll see a bunch of Sierra lakes on this route — and plenty of fall colors too.

Check out the Eastern High Sierra Fall Color Guide , which provides a map of places to go.

And California Fall Color will keep you up to date on where the leaves are turning in real time.


Fall colors beginning to pop in Sierra. See 'em on horseback, pardner 

A Southern California desert festival with real rock stars: petroglyphs

Deal: Fourth-graders and their families receive free pass to national parks

Get our weekly Escapes newsletter