As the nights grow cooler and the days grow shorter, green leaves change into their fall colors, signaling the end of their life cycle. All over the world, people travel to see that signaling blast of vibrant color and in El Dorado County, there are some especially good places to see fall color.
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Warm nights late into the fall season have delayed fall foliage changes, but change is coming, particularly at the higher elevations in the Crystal Basin area. “Some of the aspens in Indian Valley and Hope Valley are changing now,” said Julianna Ritter, of the Amador Ranger District. “We’re supposed to have cooler weather in the next week and that will drop the color into the lower elevations.”
The Hope Valley and Carson Pass areas off Highway 88 are wonderful areas to check out the aspens turning to gold. Colors in areas above 7,000 feet have just begun changing, but mid- to late October this year will be when people can expect to see the most visible changes at the lower elevations.
Extreme dryness this summer and fall has caused some leaves, like those of the black locust trees in Coloma, to drop without much color change, according to the American River Conservancy, but a spokesman recommended a fall boating trip down the North or South Fork of the Cosumnes River. “It’s a great time to get on the water. It’s less busy and quiet and the willows, cottonwoods and grasses along the river become a beautiful yellow-brown.”
The U.S. Forest Service has gotten into the fall color act with a Fall Colors Hotline (1-800-354-4595) to alert the public to the changing colors in each region of the United States. The USFS Website at fs.fed.us/fallcolors/2012 has videos of fall colors, information about why leaves change colors and even webcams for a few states where you can see the colors live, even if you are still in your cubicle in California.
If you want to see awesome color and don’t have the time to drive very far, check out the Chinese pistache trees along Highway 50 in Placerville. The colors are just beginning and you can watch them develop without using a tank of gas.