MAMMOTH FALL COLORS
transition between summer and winter in the Mammoth Lakes resort area transforms
high alpine canyons and lake shores into blazing color. Aspens,
willows, and cottonwoods unfold in brilliant hues of yellow, gold,
orange and red. Light and color bathes the scenery from Rock Creek
Canyon to the south of Mammoth Lakes to Conway Summit to the north.
The trees generally begin their annual change in September
offering the best viewing in late September and into the 2nd week of October.
Plan your fall vacation as we always have fall specials in Mammoth
especially for those who come up to see the trees.
There are some
great routes to take, including the canyon ride out to Rock Creek
Lake and the Mosquito Flats Trailhead. If you go before mid October
stop for some pie at the Rock Creek Lake Resort and tell 'em Jefferson
says to have the boysenberry. Sue King's pies are infamous.
the Mono Lake Ranger District, trees peak at the higher elevations,
above 9000 feet the earliest. The June Lake Loop peaks early and also is very beautiful, but amazing is is Lundy Canyon, Parker and Walker Canyons and the Conway Summit area.
Trees change below 7000 feet, later as the air temperature has not fallen and the trees have not started to reserve their energy. In the Mammoth
District, you can see trees changing everywhere. In the White
Mountain Ranger District, the Bishop Creek area and the Rock Creek and McGee Creek and Crowley Lake
peak almost at the same time. The rangers track this so give them a call if you want specifics 760-924-5500
Red, yellow and gold, the Aspen Trees in Mammoth light up
Here's a Map to help you find the great spots
The Mt. Whitney Ranger District is peaks in many areas and you pass that on the way to Mammoth as Mt. Whitney is in Lone Pine. You can climb the Alabama hills to see into the valley. The
Owens Valley trees change as well, but many of the trees do not have
good color (perhaps due to the dry conditions). The areas with greatest
amount of color are between 7000 and 9000 feet. Some areas to hit
include Walker and Parker Canyons, Lundy Canyon and the June Lake
Valley and Horseshoe Meadows on the Mt. Whitney Ranger District are also good places to see.
Recommended viewing routes:
US Highway 395 and State Routes 120 (Tioga Pass)
and 158 (June Lake Loop) are not to be missed. Trees peak
at the higher elevations. Lower elevations will
peak after the higher elevations.
US Highway 395, State Route 203 and the Lakes Basin road are all
good routes. Trees change all througout Mammoth. Highway 203 is also known as Main Street and Lake Mary Road.
White Mountain: US Highway 395, State Route 168 West (Bishop
Creek) and the Rock Creek Road all have good colors. Many of the
higher elevations peak, although the South Fork of
Bishop Creek, Sabrina and Rock Creek go slower. Trees in the
Owens Valley change colors, but as mentioned are simply
losing their leaves rather than changing color these days.
Mt. Whitney: US 395, Horseshoe Meadows and Onion Valley
Roads are all pretty good. Trees change all over the District,
including the Owens Valley.
tips/suggestions: Storms in early October brings snow to the higher elevations and cooler temperatures to the
entire region. Although a gradual warm-up occurs, temperatures
will still be chilly at night and moderate during the day. Expect
daytime temperatures of 40s to 50s, depending on elevation, and nighttime
temperatures in the teens to low 30s. Weather can change rapidly at
this time of the year; be sure to bring warm clothes with you. Dont
forget to have your camera and binoculars with you for the best viewing.
And dont shy away from that occasional gust of wind: it could
create a beautiful sight in the middle of an Aspen grove as hundreds
or thousands of multi-colored leaves flutter to the ground.
you know why leaves change color Anne
Halford, Botanist from the Bureau of Land Management explains.
These photos are courtesy of Bonnie Colgan. Her photography is one
of the best. Please visit her at Candid