Eastern Sierra fall colors are at peak. Here’s where you need to go right now


If you make one trip to California’s Eastern Sierra this fall, make it now. Fall colors are at or approaching their peak in the Bishop Creek area. Take California Highway 395 north for about four hours from downtown L.A. and head west from the mountain town of Bishop. The show should last into the weekend, provided the weather holds, and linger longer than that at lower elevations.

Mammoth Lakes and the June Lake Loop also are showing the Western fall colors: mostly orange, gold, lime green and a bit of red. By the end of October, particularly after the cold weather sets in, it will all be over.

Bishop Creek

North Lake in Bishop
Yellow aspen leaves reflected in North Lake west of Bishop.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

High elevations along California Highway 168 from Bishop are showing golden aspen leaves set against granite walls and perfectly reflected in lakes. “Expect Instagram and Facebook feeds to be blowing up with pictures from Bishop Creek this week,” the California Fall Color website says.


Colors at elevations above 8,500 feet may start to wane, depending on whether it gets cold and windy. Other places are just starting to peak. Here are good places to explore in the Bishop area where you’ll be able to drive up, park and walk around.

• The South Fork of Bishop Creek, about 50 yards from the entrance to Parchers Resort at 5001 S. Lake Road;

Aspens above Cardinal Village in Bishop, Calif.
Fall colors photographed Sunday above the Cardinal Village Resort.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times )

• The groves above Cardinal Village Resort at 321 Cardinal Road;

South and North lakes, and Lake Sabrina, which are accessible on roads from the end of Highway 168; and

Fall colors at Bishop Creek
Morning at South Fork of Bishop Creek, not far from Parchers Resort.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Weir Pond, Willow Campground, Surveyors Meadow and Table Mountain Camp, all found on turnoffs from Highway 168.

Mammoth Lakes and June Lake

From Bishop north to Bridgeport, leaves are turning.

Almost anywhere along Highway 395, and its many turnoffs to side canyons, you’ll find patches of aspen turning from green to red, orange and shimmering gold. Other trees and shrubs — such as low-lying rabbit brush, which turns bright yellow at this time of year — add to the display. Locals predict colors will last a few more weeks.


Aspen leaves
Aspen leaves bring the “gold” to California fall color displays.
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Seasonal events are scheduled for the next two weekends too.

If you need some fall photo tips, think about the Mammoth Photo Festival from Thursday through Sunday in Mammoth Lakes. It promises to explore “different genres: landscape at sunrise, adventure/sports in the morning, environmental portraiture at sunset, and astro at night.” There’s a wide-ranging lineup of classes and talks by professionals in the field. Day passes start at $129 to $149 per person. Info: Mammoth Photo Festival

The community of June Lake will celebrate autumn with Leaves in the Loop (referring to the drivable June Lake Loop) from Oct. 18 to 20. The event offers a free shuttle to many popular leaf-peeping sites; art events, including a paint demo and printmaking; scenic rides up Mammoth Mountain ski resort’s chairlift; and even a group bike ride. Some events have a fee in the $10 to $25 range. Info: Leaves in the Loop

For more fall color updates and destination ideas, go to the California Fall Color website.