" /> The Season for Gold in Bishop | Bishop Visitor Information Center
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.

 

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

2 days ago

CHRA D9 High School Rodeo starts tomorrow! Gates open at 8:30am both days. Open to the public! ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

"Just some cat tails in front of the mountains." Really??!! 😉
Thank you, @chriscargophoto for the beautiful shot.
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Just some cat tails in front of the mountains. Really??!! 😉
Thank you, @chriscargophoto for the beautiful shot.
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Gorgeous country!

Beautiful

Dang! That's a lot of "cats" running around 🤣

View more comments

3 days ago

The wind is currently HOWLING outside, so here is a little throwback (it is Thursday, afterall) to last summer when "Traveling Robert" met one of our Bishop Visitor staff and was inspired to come visit our Small Town with a Big Backyard. The video he made from that trip is AWESOME!! If you are missing Bishop and our local mountains, check it out on our video page:
www.bishopvisitor.com/gallery/
... See MoreSee Less

The wind is currently HOWLING outside, so here is a little throwback (it is Thursday, afterall) to last summer when Traveling Robert met one of our Bishop Visitor staff and was inspired to come visit our Small Town with a Big Backyard. The video he made from that trip is AWESOME!! If you are missing Bishop and our local mountains, check it out on our video page: 
https://www.bishopvisitor.com/gallery/

Comment on Facebook

Beautiful content of a beautiful place. I have frequented Bishop and the Eastern Sierra for 30 plus years, as I have fly-fished through out the western states and experienced breath taking area's. Bishop and the surrounding area will always be my home waters for this trout bum. Many memories made with family and friends, some that have passed on, but always live on when standing in a stream bed that brings me comfort in the early morning sunrise, or the breath taking sunsets knowing we are United in our special place.

Fabulous video of a gorgeous place!

Very friendly place to visit

Next month 🤗🤗

View more comments

4 days ago

The lenticular clouds are always such a fantastic sight. And did you know that they indicate weather coming??
Beautiful shot @schobdog!!
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

The lenticular clouds are always such a fantastic sight. And did you know that they indicate weather coming??
Beautiful shot @schobdog!!
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Awesome photo! Did not know it indicates weather coming. Meaning a storm?

Lovely shot!

Beautiful captured cirrus clouds...love this!

Beautiful picture. Love those clouds

Glider pilots drool over the sight of these clouds! See you guys starting in May! Lone Pine/Bishop here we come! By the way, we only fly the best....Schweitzer 126's!

There's alot of Different Formations of Clouds in the Sky. Beautiful n Unusual Patterns.

They always remind me of flaky biscuits! 😂

These are the most interesting clouds.

View more comments

5 days ago

It's Tuesday... is your head in the clouds dreaming about the weekend? Or your next trip to the Bishop?
Thanks for the cool shot ALapomardo
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Its Tuesday... is your head in the clouds dreaming about the weekend? Or your next trip to the Bishop?
Thanks for the cool shot ALapomardo
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

What a beautiful shot. Thanks.

A wonderful place to visit .💕

Just spectacular!

My next trip to Bishop

DEFINITELY BISHOP! 😉☺😍😄

I can’t wait to come

View more comments

Load more