eastern sierras

Autumn Colors in the Eastern Sierras

Autumn Colors in the Eastern Sierras

For the longest time I never knew there were even autumn colors in California. Last year, I went out to the Eastern Sierras for the first time to see the autumn colors and wanted to return this year.

After coming back from my three week long trip to Peru, I saw there were still colors out in the Eastern Sierras. I decided to plan a last minute trip out there.


Our first stop was in Bishop to quickly get some food and then we headed towards Aspendell. Further down the road leads to South Lake, North Lake, and Lake Sabrina.

We pulled over to the side of the road right before Aspendell to walk through groves of aspen. The leaves were here incredibly golden and protected from the winds as it was nestled within the tall mountains.

Autumn colors in the woods Autumn leaves falling

We continued down the road to Lake Sabrina. Along the way, the very same road lined with aspens I saw last year that was full of leaves was bare from the high winds this season which was unfortunate.

On the way out, we went to North Lake and the same winds had swept through and cleared out the trees here as well.


Hot creek sunset

We headed out to Mammoth and stopped in Hot Creek for sunset. Without any expectations, the sunset turned out to be one of my favorites from this year. With fiery streaks perfectly leading towards the mountains in the background. It truly unbelievable seeing it in person. As we were heading out about an hour and half after sunset, it was still glowing.

June Lake Loop

June Lake Loop is a short 20-30 minute drive north of Mammoth. In the morning we drove out to June Lake Loop at around 5 AM to catch the sunrise glow on the peaks leading down the road. It was definitely worth freezing in 30-40 F since we got some incredible shots with the early morning light.

Early morning views of June Lake Loop

Silver Lake

After shooting the road for a bit, we headed down the loop to Silver Lake.

Reflections in Silver Lake

Like Bishop, the high winds had blown off most of the leaves, leaving them quite bare near Silver Lake. There were still patches of aspens such as across the lake which we were able to capture with our telephoto lens along with the reflection on the lake.

Jagged Peak Road

Low angle of a road in June Lake Loop

After Silver Lake, we kept driving clockwise around the loop. We ended up finding this awesome spot with the road lined with trees still full of golden leaves and leading up to the some jagged peaks.

While it was an amazing composition, it was still early morning so the trees were in the shade. We decided to stick around until the light hit the trees, bringing out the golden colors. It was definitely worth the wait.

Afterwards, we rushed back to the hotel to check out since we had spent more time than we expected waiting for the light to hit the trees.

Convict Lake

On the way back, we decided to do a “quick” stop at Convict Lake since it was on the way. To our surprise, there were some nice aspen patches and we ended up shooting here for a few hours.

I would definitely be back here for a sunrise next time. The peaks here would light up quite nicely.

Convict Lake during mid day

Final Thoughts

While the colors up in the Eastern Sierras were incredible, this is will probably be my last autumn up here for a while. I am thinking about making a trip out to the East Coast next year to check out the colors as they seem absolutely insane out there.

Let me know if you caught the autumn colors this year, and if so, where at!


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