California fall colors: If you want this picture of Half Dome, go now

Yosemite Valley in the national park was a bright spot for fall colors this week, and travelers who go this weekend may be lucky enough to catch the tail end of peak colors.

Those hues are captured in Nicholas Barnhart's photo of Half Dome reflected in the Merced River. (It's the black oaks that add the orange glow.)


"All areas in the national park are at peak or past peak," California Fall Color reports. "Yosemite Valley and Wawona have a week, perhaps two (depending on wind), of peak color left to go."

In Southern California, golden cottonwoods at the campgrounds continue around Lake Hemet in the San Jacinto Mountains. Good color at Lake Gregory in the San Bernardino Mountains should hold through this week.

In other areas, California's autumn spread shifts to the flatlands of urban areas.

The website recommends the drive from Yuba City to Red Bluff along Highway 99 to see walnut trees that have turned yellow.

Stop in downtown Chico where the Esplanade and Bidwell Park are showing canopies of yellow, gold, red and orange.

In the Central Valley, Sacramento's London plane trees are turning throughout the city. More colors are bursting along the American River Parkway, where valley oak and black cottonwood leaves take their turn.

Farther east, Napa Valley's north county grapevines show "brilliantly colored crimson, yellow, orange and lime green grape leaves," California Fall Color says.

And then there are creatures that add colors on the fly. Orange-and-black monarch butterflies on their annual migration route have returned to the eucalyptus trees of Natural Bridges State Park and Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz.

"I've never been surrounded by more butterflies," color spotter Cory Poole says on the fall colors website. "Even at special butterfly house-type exhibits you rarely have more than a hundred or so butterflies, while here there were thousands."

For the full report, go to California Fall Color.