When it comes to Fall colors, California does not come into most people’s minds. It is usually any of the states in the East or Colorado. But after I talked to my friend last year about Mammoth Lakes in California, she told me just how outstanding the Fall colors were. I HAD to see this area for myself. Anything with mountains, lakes, and Fall colors has my attention. So my husband and I decided to do an ultimate Fall road trip to Mammoth Lakes. We absolutely loved it and cannot believe I had never thought of doing a Fall trip here before! The mountains were glorious, the people were so nice, and the trees were bright and colorful. So below, I talk about my experience of finding the best spots near Mammoth Lakes with beautiful Fall colors. After this trip, you will want to come back every year.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am very grateful for) at no extra cost to you. Thank you to Visit Mammoth for collaborating on this blog post. As always, all opinions are my own.
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How To Get To Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes is tucked away in the Eastern Sierra Mountains, so it can be a little difficult to get there. They have their own airport, but it might be challenging to find cheap flights or a good schedule since it is a small one. But it is still doable. Read more here.
Another option is to drive from the Reno-Tahoe Airport, Los Angeles airport or the San Francisco Airport. Here are the driving times and mileage:
- Reno-Tahoe Airport: 3 hours, 166 Miles
- San Francisco: 5 hours, 15 minutes, 262 miles
- Los Angeles: 4 hours, 45 minutes, 313 miles
Best Time To See Fall Colors In Mammoth Lakes
The best time to see the Fall colors in Mammoth Lakes is from Late September through Late October. All the photos taken in this blog post are from October 12 through October 15 in 2020. For an up to date report on Mono County Fall colors, make sure to check out this website here.
Map Of The Best Areas For Fall Colors
Where To Stay In Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes Fall Colors
Convict Lake was my favorite lake on this trip. The fall colors were plentiful, and the views of Mount Morrison were glorious! Convict Lake got its name because, in 1871, a group of escaped convicts were trapped in this area. But luckily, most got caught and taken to jail. Now you have this glorious lake that is great for trout fishing and hiking. There are even some cool cabins you can rent near the lake.
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I highly recommend hiking the whole loop to get outstanding pictures of the yellow trees. The closer you go to the mountain, the better the views. We did this hike for sunset, but I feel like sunrise would be amazing. The new morning colors would highlight Mount Morrison perfectly. While we did sunset, the sun was behind the mountain, but even with the sun behind the mountain, it was still by far my favorite part of this whole trip.
June Lake Loop
June Lake loop is a must if you want to take some glorious yellow gold pictures! We scheduled to do this loop in the morning, but we could NOT stop taking pictures. Make sure to schedule more than a few hours to do this loop.
One of my favorite lakes to spot Fall trees was Gull Lake. They had a campground there that was closed, but if it were open, it would have been amazing to stay there. Yellow Fall trees galore!!!
There was also a small hill at Gull Lake, which we climbed. The views from above were so beautiful. I loved seeing the speckles of yellow trees from above!
My second favorite lake for Fall colors was Silver Lake. It was pretty easy to spot where to park to experience the yellow alpine trees. The parking lot was pretty large. Once you park, you can easily experience the different paths through the yellow trees. What I loved about Silver Lake is that you feel immersed in Fall. For someone that never experienced colors like this growing up, this was pretty exciting.
Once you are done viewing the Fall colors at Silver Lake, make sure to stop at the Silver Lake Resort. They have food and a nice little convenience store.
June Lake Loop is not all about lakes. I also loved experiencing Rush Creek. After Silver Lake, there were some areas to park by the road. You can easily explore Rush creek by finding worn paths, as you can see in the picture above.
Not Sure What To Wear? Check Out This Post: What To Wear Hiking In The Fall
Lundy Canyon was just stunning. I couldn’t believe just how beautiful this area is. You can easily do a hike in this area or drive around and enjoy the colors.
There are a few viewpoints you can stop at before you get to Lundy Lake. There is only room for one car at the viewpoints, so if someone is already parked there, it can be difficult to take pictures of the canyon from overhead. But don’t worry if you can’t get a picture from above, as you can get some great shots by Lundy Lake. Lundy Lake has a lot of parking spots. I loved how tall the trees were and the views of the mountain in the background. Absolutely stunning!
Many people turn around after Lundy Lake but make sure you don’t! The views by the Lundy Canyon trailhead are lovely. There is a cute pond, and you guessed it… More Fall colors! You can, of course, do the difficult Lundy Canyon Hike, which is around 5.3 miles with an elevation gain of 2,050 ft. >Check Out The Trail Here
Mammoth Lakes Basin
Mammoth Lakes Basin probably had the least amount of yellow Fall trees on this list, but it doesn’t mean you should skip this one! The mountains were most impressive in this area, and there were so many lakes to explore like Lake George, Twin Lakes, Lake Marie, Horseshoe Lake, and Crystal Lake. Twin Lakes probably had the most Fall colors out of all the lakes and has many areas to park and explore.
Thanks for reading all about the Fall colors in this wonderful town. I hope you love Mammoth as much as I do! It is such a fun area. Make sure to check out some of my blog posts on some other cool adventures in California:
- Best Things To Do In Death Valley National Park
- Ultimate Guide To Channel Islands National Park
- Awesome Things To Do In Joshua Tree National Park
- Best Things To Do In Mammoth Lakes, California
- 10 Best Fall Hikes In Washington State
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