Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

The Olympic Games have ended and will happen again in 2020, but here in the Eastern Sierra gold is far more easily attained and is awarded to us every year. When the air cools and summer turns to autumn the leaves begin to change color and an abundance of yellow, orange, red, russet and gold is presented in the forests near Bishop.

Historically this was the season of the harvest, when farmers gathered crops to put in storage for the winter season. Festivals and celebrations often marked the harvest as a testament to the commitment and strength of those working the land and in gratitude to mother nature. Autumn was the season to celebrate achievement.

Autumn is now more commonly referred to as fall. It is characterized by the splendid visual display that precipitates the falling of the leaves from the trees. No matter how often we witness it, it is always remarkable for its beauty and significance to the passage of time.

What causes leaves to change color?

Leaves are the food producing parts of plants and the process by which they do this is called photosynthesis – meaning, “to put together with light.” The catalyst required for photosynthesis in all plants is the chemical chlorophyll. It is a green pigment most abundant in leaf cells.

Green gives way to gold

Green gives way to gold

In the presence of chlorophyll the plant uses sunlight (or artificial light) to synthesize carbon dioxide and water to produce sugars. The sugars produced through photosynthesis are the food source for the plant that sustain it and allow it to grow.

During the summer growing season leaves appear green because of the high concentration of chlorophyll, which masks the other pigments also present within the leaf. As the hours of daylight decrease the production of chlorophyll slows and eventually stops and the other colors, predominantly yellow and orange, begin to emerge.

Plants produce far more food than they need to survive and the overabundance of sugars in the leaf are an additional factor that contributes to the color change. If the growing season has been good for the plant and the remaining light and temperature are right the reds emerge with greater intensity.

When does it happen and how long does it take?

From a few days to a week or more before the autumnal equinox, September 22nd this year, the color change can begin. Weather plays a large role throughout the year. The amount of sunlight and water and the temperature levels during the growing and slowing season are major factors that affect the hues, rate of change, intensity, and duration of color that occur during autumn.

Here in the Eastern Sierra the mountainous terrain also affects the changing of the colors. Temperatures cool quicker at the higher elevations and sunlight is further reduced as shadows are cast when the sun drops behind the crest of the Sierra Nevada. The color change begins first in the canyons and alongside lakes and streams in the mountains high above Bishop and then tumbles down into the Owens Valley many weeks later as the nights grow shorter and temperatures colder.

What trees grow and change color in the Eastern Sierra?

The principal players in this spectacular display of color are aspen, willow, and cottonwood trees. The mountain alder, a shrub belonging to the birch family, participates too and, in a very few stands where it occurs, the California black oak adds a rich color to the palette.

Where is the best place to see fall colors?

Road to North Lake

Road to North Lake

Bishop Creek Canyon is one of the most beautiful places (in the state – if not the country) to witness this magnificent display. A short drive west from Bishop on State Route 168 (W. Line Street) will take you up into the canyon where there are innumerable places to see the changing colors of the forest.

The entire canyon comprises three forks of Bishop Creek – north, middle and south fork. A large lake marks the head of each fork, North Lake on north fork; Lake Sabrina on middle fork; and South Lake on south fork, with numerous other smaller lakes along the creeks.

The road winds up through the groves of aspen and willow with ever changing views as you drive. Exploration on foot from any of the turnouts and trailheads will take you deep into the explosion of color.

This is the golden season. As the yellow turns to orange with splashes of pink and dashes of red the overwhelming visual sensation is one of burnished gold. Autumn is the season when we all win!

When is the best time to visit?

It is beginning now.

Call (760) 873-8405 or come into the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main Street for maps, directions and more information about the fall colors in the Eastern Sierra.

 

Archived Stories

Tell us:

How do you enjoy OUR BACKYARD?

Error: Access Token is not valid or has expired. Feed will not update.
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

There's an issue with the Instagram Access Token that you are using. Please obtain a new Access Token on the plugin's Settings page.
If you continue to have an issue with your Access Token then please see this FAQ for more information.

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

16 hours ago

If you plan to be in the area at the end of March, grab your tickets to this event early - it is usually a full house! Hosted by Inyo Council for the Arts, it is two evenings of adventure, culture, art, and good causes. Each night features different films - so get tickets for both 😁.Tickets for the 2019 Banff Film Festival go on sale February 18th! Tickets are $15 per night and are available at Eastside Sports and Inyo Council for the Arts in Bishop and Booky Joint in Mammoth Lakes. ******NOTE: Due to non-cooperation by the weather, tickets may not be available at Booky Joint on February 18th. We are working on getting the tickets up there as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience! Tickets will still be available on the 18th at Eastside Sports and ICA, and by calling ICA.****** Ignite your passion for adventure, action, and travel! This year’s exhilarating and provocative films explore remote landscapes, highlight mountain cultures, and feature exciting adventures and adrenaline-packed sports. The festival will take place Friday, March 29th, and Saturday, March 30th. Screenings are in the Charles Brown Auditorium at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. Doors open at 6pm, films start at 7pm, with different films shown each night. Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival is brought to the Eastern Sierra by Inyo Council for the Arts. For more information and tickets, call Inyo Council for the Arts at 760-873-8014 or visit www.inyo.org. ... See MoreSee Less

If you plan to be in the area at the end of March, grab your tickets to this event early - it is usually a full house! Hosted by Inyo Council for the Arts, it is two evenings of adventure, culture, art, and good causes. Each night features different films - so get tickets for both 😁.

18 hours ago

In town for the weekend? Don't forget to check out our great local merchants and galleries, including this new one on Main Street. Find more here: www.bishopvisitor.com/activities/arts-photography/ or stop by the Visitors Center at the Bishop City Park, across street from Schat's Bakkery! ... See MoreSee Less

In town for the weekend? Dont forget to check out our great local merchants and galleries, including this new one on Main Street. Find more here: https://www.bishopvisitor.com/activities/arts-photography/ or stop by the Visitors Center at the Bishop City Park, across street from Schats Bakkery!

2 days ago

Hello friends and fans of the Eastern Sierra! The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau will be participating in the 2019 LA Travel & Adventure Show this weekend at the LA Convention Center! We hope you'll stop by our booth to pick up a free visitor guide. The first 150 people to use our promo code, VIPBSHP, will receive a free ticket to the show! Visit LATravelShow.com to get your ticket! ... See MoreSee Less

Hello friends and fans of the Eastern Sierra!  The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau will be participating in the 2019 LA Travel & Adventure Show this weekend at the LA Convention Center!  We hope youll stop by our booth to pick up a free visitor guide.  The first 150 people to use our promo code, VIPBSHP, will receive a free ticket to the show! Visit LATravelShow.com to get your ticket!

 

Comment on Facebook

The Chuck and Joe show is always good. My two favorite Chamber hosts.

I've got go to my OSHA 30 training CLASS otherwise I would be interested!

+ View more comments

Load more
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!