The Cool Quiet of Mono County's Late Fall

Already did the whole leaf-peeping thing? There are still cold wonders to behold around the Sierra-mazing region.

LEAF-PEEPERS AND EARLY OCTOBER... are as solid a pairing as apples and cider, or pie and pecans, or wool and socks, or plaid and scarves. Of course, when an area filled with oaks or aspens or maples will finally go full fall depends upon a few factors, but, around many parts of California, and specifically the Eastern Sierra, it is the early part of fall, the second and third and fourth weeks of the season, that truly see a stream of visitors eager to snap that perfect golden grove or eye a valley awash in crimson and pinky hues. But autumn doesn't end when the final leaves begin to drop to the ground around the lower parts of the Sierra, and while the peeping may be done for another year in...

MONO COUNTY, there is still the later part of fall to consider. One might think of it as the "off-season," that time between the passionate pursuit of fall foliage and the passionate pursuit of the perfect bluebird day out on the slopes at Mammoth Mountain or June Mountain. Late fall is, in fact, embraced as just that — the awesome off-season — by people in the area, who know that the picturesque region still has many spectacular gifts to offer, even though the branches are a bit barer than just two months ago. So, what to do during the non-foliage, snow's-still-comin' stretch?

VISITING THE AREA's HOT SPRINGS... seem like a perfect autumn's-ending pursuit, with Travertine Hot Springs, Buckeye Hot Springs, and Old Benton Hot Springs all offering bubbling warmth. Calling upon area towns for lunch, from the brewery-cool June Lake to eatery-laden Mammoth Lakes, is also a fine outing for a crisp and blue December Saturday. And the hiking, especially at lower elevations, should still be free of snow, though you might want to check first before you go. And speaking of snow, is that snow at Mono Lake? Well, it's tufa, which can look a bit snow-y, yes. But the lake is a lovely stroll, especially when it heads into the not-too-crowded off-season.

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