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Friday, 22 October 2021 19:30

California Fall Color Report - 10/21/

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Crowley Lake are in Mono County Crowley Lake are in Mono County Sarah Wallock

Editor’s Note: Each year Taste California Travel is privileged to share with you John Poimiroo’s California Fall Color Report. This is the third of those weekly reports.

Following is a summary of reports on autumnal change across California. It is compiled from reports and photographs submitted by a network of volunteer observers. Similar reports on the status of fall color across California will be sent each Thursday until the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day.

All reports are substantiated by dated photography.

Areas that turn Past Peak are dropped from the report in succeeding weeks.

A selection of the finest and most representative photographs of fall color taken across California in the preceding week (Best of the Week) is provided to media.


To view and use the best photographs taken this week, visit: CLICK HERE

Statewide SummaryRed Lake Creek cabin Philip Reedy PicmonkeyRed Lake Creek cabin as csptured by Philip Reedy

The first major "winter" storm arrives at the end of this week, which will likely end autumn's show in the Eastern Sierra, but only there.

Nevertheless, presently the aspen groves are carrying heavy loads of deep orange leaves at June Lake in the Eastern Sierra (Mono County) and bigleaf maple, Indian rhubarb and landmark sugar maple and plane trees have made Quincy the place to see fall color in the Northern Sierra (Plumas County).

All Eastern Sierra canyons, High Sierra mountain passes and the Hope Valley are now Past Peak or in their last days of Peak color. Still beautiful, but only for a few more days are the June Lake Loop, Convict Lake and Twin Lake, all in Mono County. Bishop Creek Canyon in Inyo County is now largely Past Peak, though beautiful color can be seen in the Owens Valley along the Owens River near Bishop.

In the Northern Sierra, Quincy, Spanish Creek and CA-89 from Graeagle to Quincy are prime with trees heavy with lush orange, gold and yellow leaves.

It is no longer possible to specify a single elevation at which to find peak fall color, because  California has entered a transitional phase where peak drops from 7,000 to 4,000' in elevation. Until now, peak color has descended at a fairly consistent rate of from 500 to 1,000' a week. Looking ahead, Lake Tahoe (at 6,000') should be next up, however it has had lackluster color this autumn. Not much is found in Northern California at 5,000', though the San Bernardino, San Jacinto and Laguna Mountains in Southern California have many locales in that range. Yosemite Valley (4,000') is a November peak, though some species there (bigleaf maple, dogwood) are now showing yellow and pink. Plumas County and the Shasta

Cascade often grab the headlines during this period, but wildfires burned large areas within them. Fortunately, one area of the Northern Sierra was untouched by those fires and is extraordinarily beautiful at the moment ... Central and Southern Plumas County.


These are awarded to locations that will have California's best fall color overall, the best fall color drive and the best hike in the coming week. Plumas County captures the triple crown of California Fall Color with the best peak, drive and hike.

  • Peak of the Week is Quincy (Plumas County).
  • Drive of the Week is CA-89 from Graeagle to Quincy (Plumas County)
  • Hike of the Week is the Cascade Trail along Spanish Creek near Keddie (Plumas County). uses the following scale in judging the percentage of change: Just Starting (0 - 10%), Patchy (10 - 50%), Near Peak (50 - 75%), Peak (75 - 100%) and Past Peak.

These assessments are made by local fall color spotters who are experienced at assessing the overall change for a given location. We judge change by location and elevation. In California, autumn color appears at the highest elevations first (above 9,500'), then descends at an approximate rate of 500 to 1,000 feet a week.

The following conditions were accurate as of 10/21/21 and are subject to rapid change.


Inyo County

The autumn show has ended up Bishop Creek Canyon. Lovely color is being seen in the Owens Valley along the Owens River, at artesian springs and ponds.

  • Bishop Creek Canyon (7,800' - 10,000') - Past Peak, You Missed It.


  • Bishop (4,150') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Owens River (4,150') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!

Whitney Portal

  • Whitney Portal (8,375') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

Mono County

It's last call in Mono County. With heavy snow and wind predicted to arrive early next week, get there before Sunday to see the last great display of fall color in the Eastern Sierra, but get there before Sunday.

 Walker / Coleville / Topaz

  • Monitor Pass (8,314') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • West Walker River, Walker, Coleville and Topaz (5,200') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Good color is seen along the West Walker River. Black cottonwood in Coleville and along the shores of Topaz Lake are glorious and should last past this coming weekend's storm.

Bridgeport / Virginia Lakes

  • Twin Lakes (7,000') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Incredible conditions, presently with great views of sawtooth mountains from the shores of Lower Twin Lakes.
  • Conway Summit (8,143) - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Summers Meadow (7,200') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

Lee Vining

  • Lee Vining Canyon (6,781') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - The best color yet in Lee Vining Canyon. Tioga Pass just re-opened, but it will likely be closed again following this week's storm.
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW You Almost Missed It. - Good color remains in the lower sections of the canyon.

June Lake Loop

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - This week will be fabulous along the June Lake Loop. The best color will be seen up to Sunday, with the best groves at peak, now. Last call for one of the best leaf peeping spots in Mono County.

Mammoth Lakes

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

Crowley Lake/McGee Creek Canyon/Convict Lake

  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Great color can still be seen near the campground, but higher up it's past peak.
  • Around Crowley community (6,781') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - A forest of towering black cottonwood populate this working class town.
  • Convict Lake (7850') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Peak color is ringing the lake with the backside at 85%.

Rock Creek Canyon

  • Rock Creek Road (9,600') - Past Peak, You Missed It.


Hope Valley

High winds stripped many groves in the Hope Valley that were at peak. Still beautiful are aspen behind Red Lake Creek Cabin, a popularly photographed ranch house on CA-88.

  • Red Lake Creek Cabin (7,550') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • The T, CA-88 and 89 (7,000') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Wylder Hope Valley Resort (7,000') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Woodfords Canyon (7,000') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

Lake Tahoe

  • Truckee (5, 817′) - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Cottonwood are carrying bright color along the Truckee River. Check out this webcam during daylight hours.
  • Lake Tahoe (6,225′) - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Lake Tahoe has been a disappointment this autumn with lackluster color. Kokanee salmon have not been reported as spawning, but perhaps this week's storms will fill streams with water and fish.
  • US-50 - Past Peak, You Missed It. - Caldor Fire Damage


  • Mendocino County - Just Starting (0 - 10%) - Vines are beginning to hemorrhage red color.


  • Sacramento (30') - Just Starting (0 - 10%)
  • Mormon Island Wetlands SP (377') - Patchy (10 -50%)
  • El Dorado Hills (768') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Placerville (1,867') - Patchy (10-50%)
  • Camino (3,133') - Patchy (10 - 50%)


  • Quincy (3,342') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Cascade Trail, Spanish Creek (5,817') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • CA-89, Plumas County - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Greenville (3,586') - Past Peak, You Missed It. - Dixie Fire Damage
  • Indian Valley (3,583') - Past Peak, You Missed It. - Dixie Fire Damage
  • Taylorsville (4,295') - Past Peak, You Missed It. - Dixie Fire Damage
  • Genesee Valley (3,701') - Past Peak, You Missed It. - Dixie Fire Damage


  • Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia (482') - Just Starting (0 - 10%) - Autumn Blaze (Freeman's Maple) are crimson red with color.
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