When can I see the fall colors?

Mono County’s varied elevations – from approximately 5,00 to nearly 12,000 feet – means the trees peak in color at different times, starting in the highest elevations and working their way down. Because of this, Mono County typically has one of the longest fall foliage periods of California’s 58 counties.

The change in air temperature and decreased daylight is what kicks things off and, like clockwork, that tends to happen mid to late September in areas like Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, Sagehen Summit, Virginia Lakes, and Green Creek. Mammoth Lakes, McGee Creek, Bridgeport, Conway Summit, Sonora and Monitor Passes will peak next, with the grand finale in October around the June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon, Lee Vining Canyon, Convict Lake, and the West Walker River. Colors can last into early November if we’re lucky in the Walker, Coleville and Topaz, and Bishop area.


When is the best time to see the fall colors?

Beginning to mid-October might be considered the “best” time since there are a variety of colors and places to see - some may still be at peak or just past peak, some will be mid-change, and some will be just getting started. If you have your heart set on seeing a certain area in “peak” colors, of course shoot for that time, but don’t fret - any time during the fall color season is magical and unique. You can scroll through our photo galleries to see dates and read more on timing here.


Where is the best spot to see fall colors?

How can we choose just one?! We love them all and think you will, too. Take a scroll through our photo galleries, grab a fall color map, and reference our fall color report to map out your visit. 


Will the fall colors be late this year (2023) because of the huge 22-23 winter and late summer?

Incredibly, this season did have a bit of a delayed start - the first time we've seen anything like it in almost 12 years of fall color reporting. As of 10/4, we're feeling back on track - but please be sure to check out our weekly fall color report and social media for updates!

In the past, timing has been roughly the same every year regardless of the previous season's weather – wet or dry, snowy or not. The change in air temperature and decreased daylight is what kicks things off, and like clockwork, that tends to happen mid to late September. 

We do expect the colors to be more vibrant this year. The sage and other plants have stayed greener longer this year, which will add depth and beautiful contrast to the colors as they progress through their spectrum of greens, yellows, and oranges.


How will the weather affect the fall colors?

This is the less-predictable part of the season! Rainy days and warm nights may result in less intense coloration. A windy storm could shorten the season for some leaves. Ideally, warm, dry days and cool nights (under 45 degrees Fahrenheit) will bring out the most brilliant colors.  

No matter when you visit, you should always keep an eye on the weather and road conditions as things can change very quickly in the mountains. Weather can also be very isolated (affecting only one area or community), or very different depending on the elevation (rain in lower elevations could be snow up higher and colder).


How do I have a safe, enjoyable fall color visit? 

So thoughtful of you, thank you for asking! :) 

  • Please remember to Leave No Trace and always mind your Mountain Manners.
  • Please do not park in the middle of the road to take pictures. Use a designated pullout or parking area, please don't make your own parking spot or park on vegetation.
  • Stay alert: Pay close attention to the road and your surroundings. Wildlife, such as deer and photographers, are more active during this time of year, increasing the risk of collisions.

The Eastern Sierra's fall colors are a breathtaking sight, and by practicing responsible and sustainable habits we can ensure that this extraordinary region remains a haven for both nature enthusiasts and the incredible wildlife that calls it home. Let's leave a legacy of conservation and respect for future generations to enjoy. Thank you, and safe travels!


What kinds of trees change color in the Eastern Sierra?

Trees that change color include aspen, cottonwood, and willow.


Where can I stay for the fall colors?

We have tons of lodging options - you can view them all and check availability for most here


Are there any other things to do when I visit?

Yes! Tons of events happen every fall, and there are several other unique ways to see the fall colors like on horse-back, on the water, or even on a helicopter tour. Hiking and fishing are always amazing this time of year, too. If you need more ideas, please give us a call!


I have more questions - who can I ask?

You can call us (Mono County Tourism) at 800-845-7922 Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm - if we miss you, please leave a message and we'll call back ASAP, or email us at tourism@mono.ca.gov.

For questions regarding fall colors in Bishop and Inyo County, please visit https://bishopvisitor.com/fall-activities/  and/or contact the Bishop Chamber of Commerce at 760-873-8405.

For more information on fall colors in Mammoth Lakes and throughout California, please visit https://www.visitmammoth.com/fall-colors/ and https://californiafallcolor.com/.