Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel far to catch the change of seasons—fall is just as spectacular in the northern parts of California.
With mild weather along with stretches of forests, vineyards, and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see providing your backdrop, the Golden State is the place to be as autumn sets in.
When to Go
The last two weeks of October are typically the ideal time to catch the changing colors, while the weather is still crisp and dry but before temperatures start to freeze. However, some foliage, especially at lower elevations, lasts well into November.
Where to Go
From the vineyards of Napa to the peaks of the Sierras, these are the best places to catch nature’s paintbrush at work this season:
Lake Tahoe Area
The Tahoe area is one of the most spectacular places in Northern California in the fall, with the changing colors framed by the topaz blue of the lake. Explore some of the best fall views by hiking portions of the Tahoe Rim Trail, cruising along Highway 89 from South Tahoe to Truckee, or taking it all in from above on a hot air balloon ride.
Book a stay at Red Wolf Lodge at Olympic Valley, a cozy resort nestled on the remote end of the lake that will makes you feel truly away from it all.
Around harvest season, Napa Valley vineyards start to take on brilliant hues of glowing golds and crimson reds. Wind through the region’s backroads with autumn landscapes providing a colorful canopy backdrop. With most Napa Valley vineyards offering patio seating, you can now take in autumn views with a glass of wine.
Or you could also enjoy them from your private patio of your cozy cottage at RiverPointe Napa Valley, nestled right in the heart of wine country!
Wind your way up Highway 395 along the Eastern Sierras where rushing streams, rugged canyons, and an azure sky create a spellbinding contrast of colors. We recommend leaf peepers head to Bishop, Convict Lake, June Lake Loop, and Bridgeport to see fall colors at their finest.
For a full fall color report and more information on where to go and when, check out this Eastern Sierra fall color map. Also, given the recent wildfires in these areas, please check AirNow.gov for up-to-date air quality reports.
So whichever region you decide to head color spotting this fall, step out into the crisp air with a cup of something warm, grab your camera, and go marvel as autumn graces the Golden State.