Amazing autumn colors can be found through OCTOBER and NOVEMBER in California, but you’ll need to leave the city in order to find the very best colors and scenic beauty. Fall season happens quickly (within weeks) in the high country and slower (months) in the lowlands. Plenty canyons and parks in the urban centers have hiking trails thru some nice trees, but nothing compares to the backroads, creeks and rivers of the big mountains.
Elevations, the higher the better, is where you’ll find the real displays of color. Aspen groves can be found along mountain slopes, creek canyons from 5000′-10,000′ in elevation. Cottonwood trees are found in the drier regions, in ranching areas and in desert canyons – up to about 6000′ elevation. Aspen trees start to turn yellow as soon as the chill of nights drop; if the temperature shift is subtle, the aspen leaves become more orange as the days go into the fall season. If an early snow or freeze happens, just one night, the glorious foliage becomes dead brown crispies dangling in the wind.
has minimal fall colors.
Southern and Central Sierra
have a few aspen groves and several cottonwood canyons.
The “North State” primarily has the big river canyons, most of which have fall colors. Eel River, Klamath, Yuba River, Feather Rivers.
Berry Creek, CA
Yuba River Campgrounds
Bucks Lake, CA
Haskins Valley & Grizzly Creek Campground
Oro-Quincy Highway – Plumas NF
The Eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada is the ‘place to be’ for Autumn Colors in California. The dramatic desert meets the tallest granite peaks. Every canyon is a different scene, many lakes lined with aspen groves, some have a creek with aspens.
North Lake Campground
Lake Sabrina Road
Bishop Pass (high country hikes)
- Grant Lake
- June Lake Campground
- Oh Ridge Campground
- Reverse Creek Campground
- Silver Lake @ June
- Parker Lake (dirt road to primitive camps)
- Walker Lake (hike-in)
Lee Vining, CA
Lee Vining Canyon / Hwy 120
One of the biggest aspen grove canyons in the state of California.
NFS Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon: Big Bend, Aspen Grove, Boulder, Moraine, and Cattleguard Campground.
NFS Camps @ Yosemite’s EAST GATE (9000′ elev): Ellery Lake, Junction, Saddlebag Lake, and Sawmill Campground.
Impressive Rock Creek Road #4S12 in Rock Creek Canyon, one of the very best “Scenic Autumn Drives” in the whole Eastern Sierra. Numerous NFS Campgrounds on this road; many of which close for the season, just about the time then fall colors peak.
Rock Creek Lake Campground @ 9600′ elev
Iris Meadow Campground @ 8600′ elev
(this part under construction)
Aspen Campground (walk-in camp sites)
Mount Shasta, CA
(downtown of Mt. Shasta)
McBride Springs Campground
(slopes of Mount Shasta)
Beach Camp Resort & RV Park
4239 W. A. Barr Rd
Mount Shasta CA
MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park
Modoc National Forest (coming soon)
Siskiyou Autumn Colors (coming soon)