Where to see stunning fall colors in the Eastern Sierra right now
Smoke from wildfires didn’t dull the aspen glow in the Eastern Sierra’s sweet spot for fall colors. The trees around Lake Sabrina and South Lake in Bishop, Calif., were near or at peak last weekend — and may last a bit longer. It’s been a tough season for leaf peepers because many national forests were closed until early October over poor air quality from nearby fires and high fire risk.
Times Community News photographer Raul Roa headed up Highway 395 to the Sierra last weekend. During his drive, he encountered smoky skies with low visibility of the mountains. However, things cleared up when he drove to the lakes around 10,000 feet in elevation. “Once I got up into the higher elevations, the smoke dissipated,” Roa said. “Some trees still had some green, especially at higher elevations, but some were already losing their leaves.”
The state capital takes its tree-loving culture seriously, which makes it a good candidate for a fall color getaway.
That means if you want to catch the show, go soon.
Californiafallcolor.com reports that Bishop Creek Canyon, especially North Lake, put on a “spectacular show” that’s largely past peak right now. “Haze congested the Owens Valley and Bishop Creek Canyon off and on for the past two weeks, though the occasions it lifted, the scenery was as good as we’ve seen,” the website reports.
The website recommends these “go now” places to see colors in the area:
- Table Mountain Group Camp (8,900′) – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW!, You Almost Missed It.
- Stiny Loop/Mt Glen Camp (8,850′) – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW!, You Almost Missed It.
- Mist Falls (8,350′) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now!
- Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – Near Peak to Past Peak Go Now!, You Almost Missed It. – Past Peak at the North Lake turnoff; the walk in from Cardinal Village is Near Peak.
- Aspendell (8,400′) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now!
The Inyo National Forest partly reopened in early October but key trails, including the popular Mt. Whitney Trail to the 14,500-plus-foot peak, remain closed because of fire-fed poor air quality. However, roads are open to many lakes and fall color spots.
If you drive, Roa offers this tip: “Since the area is high in the mountains and the roads leading up there are very steep, it is recommended to go slow coming back down the mountain and use lower gears to avoid riding the vehicle brakes too much. Brakes can overheat and fail.”
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