Post Trip Report: Eastern Sierra Fall Colors 2011-Oct-13 & 14
Destination: June Lake Loop, Rock Creek Area, Aspendell, North Lake, Conway Summit
I’m reposting some of the report from two nights ago now that I’ve had the chance to process some photographs. Information from a brief look at the June Lake Loop from about 1/2 mile in from Hwy 395 and our stop at Conway Summit on the way home are included with this update.
Anyhow, my parents love the fall colors but really haven’t had a chance to see a full blown one up close and in person. So I offered to take them out on a two day outing to the Eastern Sierras to not only see the fall foliage, but also Mono Lake.
Rock Creek: I had high hopes for Rock Creek as it hasn’t been mentioned much in any reports online and it’s next up from the Bishop Creek Area going from south to north. Reality set in when I saw brown and blown down leaves from Rock Creek Lake and above from the snow storm last week. The campgrounds below the lake are much more promising. The colors on the north side of the road have turned earlier than the south side of the road, where many of the trees are still green or barely yellow. Noteworthy is Big Meadow campground where it is at least 50% yellow with patches of orange. The campgrounds immediately up the road from Big Meadow are also worth stopping for. I would guess this area of Rock Creek will be in full color by early next week. And then there’s the green tree mostly on the south side of road in the Big Meadows area. Those are at least a couple of weeks off.
Aspendell: Really impressive colors here. The area from Aspendell to the turnoff for North Lake is really coming into color, averaging 75% yellows. The best show is a grove of beautiful yellow aspens just down the hill from the last houses in town. The grove is to the south/right as you are going down the hill and pass the last house. Brilliant yellow. Generally the best color is from Intake 2 and up to the town of Aspendell itself. This area will remain great for at least the middle of next week.
North Lake: Some parts of the tree tunnel area has turn brown or dropped due to the storm, but there were quite a few trees that were green two weeks ago and now they have turned a brilliant yellow. It’s a little difficult to isolate out certain areas that are now brown or barren, but the tree tunnel is at close to 100% or past peak now. The grove of aspens on the “far” side of the lake (northwest) is at 75% with large swaths of yellow and orange.
June Lake Loop: We only drove into the north side of the June Lake Loop for a mile, up to the point a dirt road splits off and seems to lead to a swath of aspen trees in the hills. The colors looks to be 50% in with yellows and a touch of orange here and there.
Conway Summit: A definite surprise of color here. The colors are in various stages of coming in and about 75% have turned or started turning. There are beautiful layers of colors throughout the summit and plenty of photogs and casual observers stopped in the two main turnouts on Hwy 395. But remember, those are the only and usually not the best locations to shoot from. Depending on the stage of color and time of the day, the best locations may actually be elsewhere. While it’s not entirely safe to park on the shoulder on the highway and shoot from the safe side of the guardrail, it’s perfectly acceptable and I and other people have done that. At least on this day, the Sheriff’s and Highway Patrol drove by without asking any of us to move our vehicles. Conway Summit should be in peak by next weekend.