Autumn Aspens

Misty creek with aspens near the June Lake Loop, Sunday morning

Misty creek with aspens near the June Lake Loop, Sunday morning

Sunday I returned from teaching a four-day private workshop in Yosemite Valley and Lee Vining. As I reported in my last post, the color in Yosemite Valley is slow to arrive. Over on the eastern side of the Sierra some aspens are turning, but most of the groves near Lee Vining are not yet at peak. Here’s a breakdown:

June Lake Loop: About 20% turning, another 40% lime green, the remaining 40% dark green.

Lee Vining Canyon: The same, about 20% turning, 40% lime green, 40% dark green

Lundy Canyon (along the road up to the trailhead): About 30% turning, 50% lime green, 20% dark green. Most of the best color is in the lower part of the canyon.

Conway Summit: About 30% turning, 40% lime green, 30% dark green.

Above Conway Summit: The aspens in the first half mile of the road to Virginia Lakes are a mix of yellow and lime green. About a mile above Conway Summit there’s a colorful patch of orange but scrubby aspens down in a small valley to the right of the road; that grove was at peak Friday. Further up most of the aspens are bare.

My guess is that all these areas will change quickly over the next week, and the best color overall will be either this weekend or next week (though individual groves will vary). I’ll give you an update later this week when I head back over for my Eastern Sierra Fall Color workshop.

But while the peak aspen color hasn’t arrived yet around Lee Vining, there are plenty of things to photograph. One colorful, photogenic grove of trees is all it takes. My students and I found many such groves, and had a great time photographing colorful trees, reflections, and a misty creek. The accompanying images show two examples, and I also made some more abstract images that I’m really happy with; I’ll post some of those soon.

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Yosemite Valley Fall Color ReportHappy October!

Aspens reflected in a beaver pond, Saturday afternoon

Aspens reflected in a beaver pond, Saturday afternoon


Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

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8 Responses to “Autumn Aspens”

  1. Vivienne says:

    Hopefully the weather continues to cooperate for all photographing in the Eastern Sierras and Yosemite…I wish I had time to get out there.

    I am such a sucker for misty scenes, so I really love that first image. I also like that not all the trees in that stand have changed color. It seems to make the gold stand out even more.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Vivienne, I’m a sucker for misty scenes too. And a mixture of colors is usually more interesting than just one, don’t you think? Sorry you can’t make it out here. How was your fall?

      • Vivienne says:

        Hi Michael,

        Thanks for asking! I think the peak of colors around here have just passed. We are now getting gusts of wind and rain. There were some nice pockets of color, and then other areas where the leaves have gone straight to brown due to the drought.

  2. Sam Roberts says:

    It was nice running into you Saturday morning at Rush Creek. Nice color, huh? Thanks for all the interesting, and informative posts!

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