Aficionados of the changing colors of fall foliage might be surprised to learn that the longest-lasting and most diverse autumn in North America isn’t in New England. It’s in California’s Eastern Sierra, including Mono County, where the impressive range of elevation (from 5,000 feet to nearly 12,000 feet) means the foliage begins changing color weeks before autumn actually begins.

But because timing is crucial, it helps to know where and when to look. Here are top recommendations from John Poimiroo of, for catching the colors of fall in and around Mono County:

1. In the last two weeks of September, find peak fall color, dependably, at the Virginia Lakes, Sagehen Summit and Upper Rock Creek. To the south of Mono County, equally spectacular color is seen in Bishop Creek Canyon during the last two weeks of September and first two weeks of October.

2. Lobdell Lake Road , Summers Meadow, Dunderberg Meadow (All-Wheel Drive recommended for all three dirt roads) are alive with iridescent displays of fluttering yellow aspen leaves during the first week of October.  A week later, it's time for McGee Creek Canyon, Laurel Canyon, Sonora and Monitor Passes and the Mammoth Lakes Basin to glow.

3. By the third week in October, Lundy Canyon (the finest fall color hike in California) is at its peak and Convict Lake and the June Lake Loop are coming into their own. Ribbons of yellow and orange, flecked with scarlet are reflected in the blue water of Mono County's lakes. The color rises up granite slopes toward sawtooth peaks. Trails canopied with golden aspen circle the lakes and climb drainages. If the elevation doesn't take your breath away, the display of color surely will.

4. As October wanes, so does fall color in the Eastern Sierra. Among the last to be enjoyed is a gorgeous boulevard of towering cottonwood lining U.S. 395 as it passes through the Antelope Valley and its ranch towns of Walker, Coleville and Topaz. Because of the way fall color descends, one storm doesn't ruin the show, peak color just drops a little by elevation.

Refer to the weekly fall color report for current pictures of what's happening and where it's happening in Mono County!