Mono County, Calif. - While winter snow sports and summer adventures attract the lion’s share of visitors to the Eastern Sierra, the vibrant colors of fall paint the Eastern Sierra landscape with a brilliant pallet and offer an incredible backdrop to a memorable autumn vacation.
Cooler temperatures and fewer visitors makes fall an ideal time to drive, hike, bike, ride or paddle among the spectacular yellow, orange and red aspen, cottonwood and willows. In partnership with Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Inyo County, Mono County Tourism has produced an Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide and Map to make planning your trip around the best fall colors easier. Below are five options for different ways to experience the changing landscape.
Drive: Green Creek to Virginia Lakes & Conway Summit - This drive combines dirt and paved roads, but weather permitting, the well-graded Green Creek Road is passable for most vehicles. Start on Green Creek Road just south of Bridgeport, following Green Creek through numerous of aspen stands. Take Dunderberg Meadow Road, connecting to the paved Virginia Lakes Road, and back down to US Highway 395 over Conway Summit.
Hike: Lundy Canyon - Located just north of Mono Lake, this hike takes you through some amazing alpine scenery and through thick aspen groves, making it a perfect fall color hike. This 4- to 6-mile hike of moderate difficulty features waterfalls and beaver dams. The trailhead is located at the end of Lundy Canyon Road, accessed from US Highway 395 just north of Lee Vining.
Bike: Road Biking - June Lake Loop. This incredibly scenic ride begins at the June Lake Junction where US Highway 395 meets Highway 158, locally known as the June Lake Loop. Riders will pass June, Gull, Silver and Grant lakes under impressive Sierra peaks and through bright stands of changing trees. Covering 22 miles on Highway 158 and 395, cyclists often start and end at June Lake Beach.
Mountain biking - Lower Rock Creek Trail. One of the most popular mountain bike trails in the region, the single-track winds along Rock Creek through stands of gold and orange aspen for 16 miles down to the community of Paradise. Trailhead is marked at the top of Lower Rock Creek Road, just off US Highway 395 immediately south of Tom’s Place.
Horseback: Leavitt Meadows. Several miles off US Highway 395 up Sonora Pass (Highway 108), the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station offers a great way to see fall color on horseback. The 4-hour ride meanders to Lane and Roosevelt lakes, all along the Wild & Scenic West Walker River. Find out about all 10 pack stations at www.MonoCounty.org.
Paddle: Convict Lake. Located off US Highway 395 south of Mammoth Lakes, this scenic body of water under majestic Mt. Laurel and Mt. Morrison is the perfect place to paddle a kayak or canoe, and the aspen groves at the west end of the lake light up in spectacular color each fall. Follow Convict Lake Road from US Highway 395 right to the resort, lake and boat launch.
Fall travelers may also want to plan their trip around the June Lake Autumn Beer Festival, held Oct. 10. The second annual event takes place at Gull Lake Park and is a gathering of award-winning craft breweries with food, games and live music, as well as a competitive stein holding contest. Writers and poets won’t want to miss the first annual writers workshop, Inspired By Nature: A Writer’s Retreat in June Lake, Sept. 25-27: www.junelakearts.org/writersworkshop.
For more information about fall events, to track the fall color progression this season, or to receive the free Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide and Map, go to www.MonoCounty.org/fall-colors, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VisitEasternSierra or call 800-845-7922. Or, stop by any visitor center in the county, including the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, Mono Lake Committee Information Center, both in Lee Vining, the Bridgeport Ranger Station, or the Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in the Walker General Store.
About Mono County:
Located approximately 310 miles west of Las Vegas, 315 miles north of Los Angeles, and 280 miles east of San Francisco, Mono County accesses the east entrance to Yosemite National Park and beckons visitors in all seasons. The region was listed among the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet and its major thoroughfare, US Highway 395, has been named among the country’s best five road trips by USA Weekend. From abundant trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding and bird watching in summer, stunning fall foliage in autumn, to wintertime pursuits of skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing – and simply partaking in good old-fashioned fun in the snow – Mono County is a year-round recreation paradise. For more information or to request guides, visit www.MonoCounty.org or call 800-845-7922.