Autumn Fun

California's Fall Halftime Show Is Here

The peaks have peaked, but some mountain areas still have gorgeous color. And in the lower-elevation areas? The big change is just beginning.

Mimi Ditchie Photography

LIKE EVERYTHING... the Golden State undertakes, fall foliage is big, really, really big. In fact, you might call it a truly ginormous, months-spanning, leaf-peeping party. It doesn't just occur over a weekend or a week, and claiming that fall is but a fortnight around California is to say you don't know your Sierra peaks from your sandy shores. The tree-fun show runs from August into early January, give or take, depending on where you're peepin' leaves, with the sky-reachingest parts of the state reaching fall foliage first, or at least the tinging of leaf tips before Labor Day arrives, and desert areas rounding it all out near the New Year. So when, exactly, does...

THE HALFTIME SHOW ARRIVE? People sweet on Plumas County might put the middle marker in early October, depending on the weather and other factors, while June Lake lovers could choose a later October date. But if you kept Halloween in mind as that sort-of-kind-of centerpoint of our vast state's vast foliage spectacular, you'd probably be in the right neck of the woods. So speaking of woods, and gardens, and canyons, and city streets... where will the second half of the glorious game play out? Looking to the coastal areas, and lower-elevation regions, is the wise move, though some mountainous spots are still at or near peak (though not for too long, as November gets going).

LOS ANGELES... can rock its golds and yellows right up to Christmas, and if you head for one of its famous public gardens, like The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, you'll find eye-delights of the most leafy variety into December. San Diego, the Santa Barbara area, and the towns of the Central Valley are also sublime second-halfers. A good bet? Check out the map on the California Fall Color blog to see the oh-so-timely color predictions. If a tiny leaf symbol has gone a very dark crimson? You'll need to wait for next year, as that place is now past peak. If a leaf is pale green? Hang tight: You still have a little time to wait.

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