Fall Colors in the Eastern Sierra

The Details - Where to Go and Where to Stay

Story and photos by Lara Hartley

Cirulean skies are reflected in Convict Lake during Indian Summer.

Cirulean skies are reflected in Convict Lake during Indian Summer.


Mammoth Lakes area

Sightseeing destinations such as Devils Postpile National Monument, Minaret Vista, Rainbow Falls, Minaret Falls, Mammoth Museum, historic mine sites and scenic gondola rides to Mammoth Mountain's 11,053-ft. summit all provide vistas of fall color. There are some beautiful stands of old aspens.

The Mammoth Lakes Scenic Loop road intersects Hwy. 203 as it winds to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and brings you out on Highway 395 about 5 miles north of Mammoth Lakes. An easy side trip to Inyo Craters is just off the loop road.

South of Mammoth Lake

10 miles south: Convict Lake. Hiking trail winds around lake.

20 miles south: Rock Creek Canyon. This glacier-carved canyon is just off Highway 395 at Tom's Place. Aspens are in the canyon all the way to Rock Creek Lake.


North of Mammoth Lake

20 miles north: June Lake Loop. A 14-mile stretch of highway which branches off of highway 395. There are four major lakes which sit directly next to the road. Fall color, sightseeing and climbing; fishing in the summer.

June Lake area lodging.

35 miles north: Lee Vining Canyon: Take Highway 395 to the Tioga Pass/Yosemite National Park turnoff Highway 120, climbs through a steep canyon, views of the rugged landscape and the canyon's fall colors. If you continue on Highway 120, you'll reach Tioga Pass and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. There is an entrance fee here to enter the park.

Lee Vining area lodging.

45 miles north: Lundy Canyon: Past Lee Vining and Mono Lake. Just before you begin the ascent over Conway Summit you'll see the turnoff (Highway 167). It's at the end of a quiet canyon known for its fall aspen displays. Lodge on the lake shore offers boat rentals and basic services for campers and day visitors.

Continue north on Highway 395 past the turnoff to Lundy Lake to Conway Summit. Sweeping views of Mono Lake as well as a beautiful aspen grove, all within view of the highway.

5 miles north of Conway Summit: Virginia Lakes: Access to eight pristine mountain lakes. Trout fishing, cabin rentals, boat rentals and a cafe.

Mono Lake: Thousands of migrating and nesting birds come to feed on the salt lake's teeming populations of alkali flies and tiny brine shrimp. A paradise for birdwatchers and photographers, Mono Lake also offers hiking, interpretive trails, guided tours, kayaking and a peaceful haven for taking in nature in all its grandeur.

Cottonwoods and aspens follow McGee creek into the Eastern Sierra.

Cottonwoods and aspens follow McGee creek into the Eastern Sierra.


Great food: Whoa Nellie Deli, located at the junction of highways 120 and 395 in Lee Vining, is an impressive gourmet eatery inside the Mobile Station gift mart.

Back to main page - Fall Color in the Eastern Sierra


Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, http://www.visitmammoth.com/

Mono County Tourism and Film Commission, http://www.monocounty.org/

Fall Colors in the Eastern Sierra

Magic in the Mountain: Texas Fall Colors

copyright Lara Hartley

Other Photo-Stories by Lara Hartley

St. Andrews Abbey: A World of Wonder
Cassini Call Home: Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex
Birthday Road Trip: Route 66
Ludlow for Lunch
Intimate Landscapes


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