California Eastern Sierra Fall Colors. Our natural landscape in the Eastern Sierra, where rugged granite canyons are carved by rushing streams and framed by an azure sky, offers a spellbinding contrast of colors during autumn golden, crimson and orange aspen and cottonwoods as far as the eye can see. The best time to see this spectacular array is generally mid-September to mid-October. EVER SEEN FALL COLORS THAT TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY?
WHY OUR FALL COLOR SEASON GOES ON AND ON AND ON
The Eastern Sierra’s varied elevations from approximately 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1,512 to 3,048 m) mean the trees peak in color at different times. Bishop, Inyo County and southern Mono County usually turn color first, with Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Bridgeport and northern Mono County peaking by mid-October.
Trees that change color in the Eastern Sierra include aspen, cottonwood and willow.
Ever wonder how Eastern Sierra leaves know to go from bright green to gold, orange, and russet as soon as the calendar hits mid-September? Their cue is actually from the change in air temperature and decreased daylight.
The reason we see fall colors is part of an annual cycle that begins in spring and summer, when green chlorophyll pigments are active in cells that make food for the tree to grow. It’s during this time that leaves also contain lesser amounts of yellow, orange and red pigments that are masked by the chlorophyll. The occurrence of fall colors is actually the disappearance of green chlorophyll!
Intensity of leaf color is determined by the air’s temperature and moisture. Warm, dry days and cool nights (under 45F or 7C ) mean brilliant colors; rainy days and warm nights result in less intense coloration.
If you’ve ever wondered why some leaves turn deep crimson red, while others become so gold they seem to be lit from within like a lamp, here’s your answer: They have pigments called xantho – phylls (yellows), carotenoids (yellows, oranges and reds), and anthocyanin (red). Anthocyanin is the result of trapped plant sugar, produced by the leaf when days are sunny and nights are cold.
In addition to the Eastern Sierra, fall colors dazzle throughout the Golden State. The go-to source is CaliforniaFallColor.com
Eastern Sierra Fall Colors