yosemite late october

We arrived in Yosemite the day after the first win­ter storm of the sea­son came through. Snow had dusted the higher ele­va­tions and a thin coat still clung to the top of many of the Valley’s promi­nent geo­log­i­cal fea­tures like Half Dome, Sen­tinel Dome and Cloud’s Rest.

Although Yosemite has always been one of my favorite places any­where, it had been almost 15 years since my last vis­its, when I spent half-months in Novem­ber and May on an artists’ res­i­dency pro­gram. For­tu­nately a life-long rela­tion­ship with Yosemite is one that you can pick up and resume after many years away. It took a lit­tle while to get the hang of the road sys­tem, but the place felt like home right away.

I men­tioned the snow. Here’s the trail to Senti­nal Dome. Oooh pretty. But the trail was slip­pery as the snow thawed and I was hold­ing an unpro­tected cam­era and the day was get­ting late, so I turned around not long after this photo.

Fall isn’t typ­i­cally the time to expe­ri­ence Yosemte’s water­falls at their peak. Here’s the face of Upper Yosemite Falls, more like Upper Yosemite Seep. The young French cou­ple that I was pac­ing part of the way up the trail seemed a lit­tle disappointed.

You can see here the mea­ger flow into the lit­tle twin pools at the top of the falls, right before the creek takes a leap that will launch it into a the jour­ney that marks it as North America’s tallest water­fall, or in this case, North America’s tallest seep. So, yah, fall isn’t the best time to see Yosemite’s famous waterworks.

But Octo­ber and Novem­ber can bring ter­rific leaf col­ors to the park. Here’s what the drive into the Val­ley looked like the day the sun came out.

I hope you like yel­low. That’s the pre­dom­i­nant autumn leaf color down in the val­ley. Yel­low, and brown. Bigleaf maples and var­i­ous shrubs were doing the yel­low thing. Oaks turned yellow-brown, then brown. The Val­ley dog­woods can color up a rich bur­gundy shade, but this year they were skip­ping the red and going straight to brown. Oh dis­ap­point­ment, thy color this sea­son is brown.

A cou­ple thou­sand feet higher in ele­va­tion, some­where around 6200 feet, the col­ors were more var­ied. Yel­low, we have yel­low. I’m not sure what this low road­side shrub is, but it was pretty bril­liant yel­low. Ferns were also going through a straw-yellow stage on as the green drained from the leaves.

And up here we got the non-brown leaves on the Pacific dog­woods, right now going through their candy-pink phase. Some will turn dark bur­gundy before falling. Others…we’re back to brown again. But brown via pink, no complaints.

And this last one is a sub­tle eye-candystore of some of the leaf col­ors: pink, yel­low, straw. Almost East Coast leaf colors–minus the bliz­zards (or scary hurricanes)…

7 thoughts on “yosemite late october

  1. Town Mouse

    Oh, pretty! Yes, I agree, Yosemite is beau­ti­ful any time of the year. I love it in the snow — and it’s not so crowded. But the fall col­ors I’ve never seen, and now I’m start­ing to think what fun!

  2. ryan

    Makes me wish I was there right now. Looks like a great visit. I actu­ally think it’s kind of great how the country’s tallest seep has the after-image of the water­fall and that great notch in the rock up at the top. I’ve swam in the pools up there, but it looks like it was far too cold dur­ing your visit.

  3. James Post author

    TM, I’m sure you’d enjoy the autumn. The sights are great, and the crowd-factor is noth­ing like it is dur­ing the peak season.

    Brent, thanks! It helps to be able to start with com­pelling sub­ject material…

    Ryan, I didn’t do a good job of cap­tur­ing the snow flur­ries at the top of the falls, not to men­tion the intense cold north wind. Def­i­nitely not a time to dip into the pools unless there was a sauna nearby.

    Sen­si­ble, I’m sure you’d enjoy Yosemite, too. I hope you get an opportunity!

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