After a drive and a few shots in Hope Valley (CA) area along Hwy 88, the next part of the trip involved making it down to Mono Lake by late afternoon, early evening. This meant drives past areas of Fall Colors along Hwy 395.
Weather: Cold. Evening temperatures were low-30s with the wind chill dropping the temperatures down to the 20s at night with daytime temperatures between 50-60 in the Lee Vining area. Light dusting of snow at the higher elevations (Tioga Pass, Mammoth) earlier in the week on and on the Sunday morning I was there.
From north to south, here is what I saw:
Topaz, Coleville, and Walker: 75%. Mostly yellows, very few green. Good to shoot now, though most photogs bypass this area as the trees are spread about and don’t lend to those wide-angle photogenic shots. But if you happen to stop in one of these towns for a bite to eat (Walker has popular burger and BBQ joints), you might as well shoot. The Walker River along 395 has yellows with the added bonus of a trickling river. Most of these campsites and day use areas are closed due to the government shutdown, but there are enough areas along the side of the road to stop and shoot.
Devil’s Gate Pass (Hwy 395): 100%. Yellows, some orange. A bit of an unappreciated area since most of us are speeding by at 65-75 mph and are busy passing slower cars in one of the few 4-lane stretches of Hwy 395. But if you can figure out where to stop, there are aspen trees set against the granite formations that comprise the Devil’s Gate.
Bridgeport Courthouse: Past peak. Too late. Burned leaves, dropping.
Conway Summit: 75-100% to Peak to Past, Go now!! A bit of a mixed bag here, but given the expanse of the Summit, there is enough to satisfy everyone. There are stands of yellow, orange, and red ,ixed in with trees with no leaves. The usual throngs of photogs parked along Hwy 395 at the turnouts were present. Remember to watch your speed as I always seem to see the Sheriff SUV zooming back and forth along this stretch of road.
Lundy Canyon/Lake: Not checked.
June Lake Loop: 75-100%, Go now!!!. This area has the best show of Fall Color in the areas that I had a chance to see this weekend. Details as I remember them from north to south along the Loop (Hwy 158).
- North of Grant Lake: 75-100%. The one prominent stand has all turned or started turning. Yellows with a bit of green on some trees
- Grant Lake: 100%. Trees along the side of the road have all turned.
- Aerie Crag: 75-100%. Great area. Trees along the road and lines of trees up the mountain.
- Silver Lake: 100%. Yellows along the lake make for great reflection shots. There is also a stretch of road just south of the lake that creates a nice tree tunnel effect.
- June Lake: 75-100% Yellows along the lake.