Autumn Takes It’s Time

Aspens and dogwoods along Lee Vining Creek

Aspens and dogwoods along Lee Vining Creek

Here’s another image from my recent sojourn to the eastern Sierra, with aspens and dogwoods in Lee Vining Canyon.

Over on the western side of the mountains I had a chance to check on conditions in Yosemite Valley yesterday, and can report that autumn is arriving slowly. I found some nice color across the river from El Capitan, underneath Middle Cathedral Rock, where most of the maples have turned yellow. Some other maples around the valley have also turned, along with a few dogwoods and cottonwoods, but most of the deciduous trees are still green.

It looks like the peak color is still at least a week away, but the good news is that most of the trees seem to be in good shape. The leaves on a few dogwoods have already wilted and turned brown, but these are a small minority. Last year most of the cottonwood leaves wilted before changing color, but this year the cottonwoods look normal—if still mostly green.

And though the leaves are turning a little later than usual in the valley, there’s already some nice color in spots—particularly underneath Middle Cathedral Rock—and it should only get better over the next couple of weeks.

Some of the best color in Yosemite can be found outside of the valley along highways 41 and 120, and in the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias. At these higher elevations—around 5000 to 6000 feet—the dogwood leaves often turn shades of red that you don’t commonly see in the valley. And they change earlier than the valley trees, so they should be turning right now. I haven’t been to these spots lately, but heard a report that there’s some good color along Highway 120 between Crane Flat and the entrance station.

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Yosemite Valley Fall Color ReportAutumn in Yosemite

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 Takes It’s Time”

  1. Qi says:


    Thanks for sharing your tips about fall color! We are flying from Dallas to San Jose Nov 8-12 for a short weekend, I purchased your photographer’s guide to Yosemite as it was recommended by many as good guide to view Yosemite, however, one thing concerns me is that we are not professional photographer or hikers, and Yosemite’s website said it’s not famous for fall colors, with our normal gears (thick clothes + snickers), do you think we will be able to discover any good fall color in Yosemite the time we come?


    • Michael Frye says:

      You’re welcome Qi. I think there will still be good fall color when you come to Yosemite, and you don’t need to do any hiking to find it – there’s plenty of color right along the roads in Yosemite Valley.

  2. [...] Frye in a recent post Autumn Takes It’s Time reports Over on the western side of the mountains I had a chance to check on conditions in Yosemite [...]

  3. Sam Roberts says:

    You’re right about the dogwoods on 120 between the entrance station and Crane Flat. Michael. Lots of beautiful color right now! (October 26th)

  4. Geoff Mower says:

    I’m always envious (or should I say even more envious!) of the natural beauty of North America at this time of year. Here in Australia nearly all of the native trees stay much the same colour all year round! And now as we roll into summer the light gets harsher and harsher. I tend to prefer winter for outdoor photography here as the lower sun makes for better light for longer periods. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy your images and dream of getting to Yosemite one day!

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