Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Fall Update: Colorful leaves and snow

Fall is here, and Lee Vining is still bustling, especially on weekends. Restaurants are closing, visitor center hours are shortening, and weekend South Tufa tours (at 1pm) are ending for the season on October 18th.

The seasons changed a week ago, with an abrupt end to the 80-degree weather. Another storm Sunday morning brought 2-3 inches of snow that melted rapidly in the sun. It is slowly warming up this week with highs near 70 expected this weekend before a potentially wet storm arrives as early as Tuesday. Click here for current conditions.

New snow adds magic to a colorful landscape. Photo by Greg Reis.
New snow adds magic to a colorful landscape. Photo by Greg Reis.

The week-ago storm blew off spectacularly colorful high elevation aspen leaves, leaving many of them bare. Now the color is returning to slightly lower elevations at the tops of the canyons, with the remaining high elevation leaves probably peaking this weekend. There are a lot of green trees out there still, and although some spots around the June Lake Loop are turning directly from green to brown, there is a lot of potential color in the mid-elevation canyons for the rest of the month.

Sunsets have been incredible lately, with snow on the White Mountains, lots of wispy clouds, and a harvest moon rising.

Sunday’s storm closed Tioga Pass  until Monday afternoon. Sonora Pass reopened Tuesday. Overnight parking along Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park is prohibited after October 15th, and the road usually closes around the end of the month. Sometimes it closes earlier and sometimes it is open until December, so carry chains and check weather and road conditions before leaving home.

About a million Eared Grebes are on Mono Lake right now! A white (leucistic) grebe was spotted a few times near South Tufa, and strange white-headed White-crowned Sparrows were spotted in Lee Vining. Lots of other birds are migrating through. Visit our Bird and Other Wildlife Sightings page to post your bird sightings!

Fall tends to be a dry time, and right now is no exception, with low streamflows and a dropping Mono Lake. Click here for real-time streamflows. Click here for  lake level information.