Experience Fall Colors in the Eastern Sierra, California
The Eastern Sierra is one of the best places to experience fall colors in California. The foothills turn into a gradient of greens, yellows, and oranges as the weather cools. It’s fall-wonderland!
When to go
The leaves start to change late September and carry on through October. By November, everything is dried.
Every year is different. Some years it starts to peak mid-October, other years you can start seeing it in September. Generally mid-October will be the best time to go.
Activities to do
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
What to see
Big Pine Canyon
This is a beautiful scenic drive up the canyon that starts at 4,000 feet and takes you to 8,000 feet. The windy road takes you through aspen, cottonwood, willow, and evergreen trees.
If you want to hike or backpack, you can hike to Big Pine Lakes, either North Fork or South Fork. You can even hike to Palisade Glacier on the Big Pines Lake North Fork Trail. It’s the southernmost glacier in North America.
Bishop Creek Canyon
South Lake, North Lake, and Lake Sabrina are filled with fall colors. You can see the fall colors right off the side of the road, or you can go hiking further into the mountains with 360-degree views of the 13er peaks around. If you’re looking for fall colors with alpine lakes, this is the place to be. This is one of the best places to see fall colors.
Rock Creek Canyon
This is a scenic nine-mile drive that takes you through the glacier-carved canyon lined with aspens. You can also hike on the Little Lakes Valley Trail at the end of Rock Creek Road.
This is a beautiful hike through aspen trees. You can also go horseback riding. Trips are available with McGee Creek Pack Station.
Convict Lake is a short drive from the 395 freeway with vivid yellow and orange colors hugging the bright blue lake with the peaks hanging above. The hot springs in Mammoth are basically across the road from Convict Lake.
Mammoth Lakes basin glows with fall colors during the fall months. Take a scenic drive through the Mammoth Scenic Loop. You can see fall colors by the Twin Lakes and Lake Mary campgrounds. You can also relax by Lake Mary, rent a kayak, boat or a stand-up paddleboard, and fish.
If you’re looking for a hike or a backpacking trip, the trails from Reds Meadow, Devils Postpile and Agnew Meadow lead through beautiful fall colors. Ediza Lake, Rainbow Falls, Minaret Lake, and Thousand Island Lake are beautiful.
June Lake is beautiful year-round. The first time I heard about it, locals called it “Little Switzerland.” But in the fall months, June Lake is one of the best places to see fall colors. There are 4 lakes along the loop, June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake.
You can fish, kayak, stand up paddleboard, and boat on those lakes. There are plenty of sights right off the side of the road and if you’re looking for a hike, there are lots of beautiful options too! It’s like someone drew a gold curtain over June Lake.
This is a scenic drive south off the 120 East. Sagehen is a wide, well-graded dirt road surrounded by aspen groves that turn orange and crimson. This is usually one of the first places to change colors. Beyond the Sagehen Meadows viewpoint, the dirt road requires a map and a 4WD vehicle.
This is also one of the first places that change colors. This is a scenic drive that ends at a popular hiking trail that leads to Lundy Falls surrounded by fall colored trees within the first mile.