[Update, September 17: We went in person to check it out and came back with some great news and photos. Read about it here.]
If you were thinking of doing some autumn hue traveling this year, now is the time to start paying attention. Fall color blogger John Poimiroo has issued the first "Go Now!" alerts of the season. It's few weeks earlier than usual, but we're at the whim of Mother Nature -- or, perhaps, the current drought.
The alerts are for two areas in Bishop Creek Canyon: Sabrina Campground and Surveyors Meadow, both which are around 9,000 feet elevation and are currently 50 to 75 percent of peak, which means there is solid color change. Poimiroo expects Sabrina to peak -- that's when the color is at its best -- during the next week or so.
"It's awesome over there," Jared Smith, general manager of the nearby Parchers Resort, told me this afternoon. He noted that there's tons of color going on in the area between 8,500 and 9,500 feet elevation. Smith actively updates the resort website with color reports for the Bishop Creek Canyon area. Make sure to check out the map, too.
If you can't make it this week, don't worry. Fall color comes and goes at different places at different elevations at different times. (For example, Mammoth Lakes, which shares similar elevations, is only starting to see some color.) It starts higher up first and makes it way down. The Bishop Creek Canyon area will probably have good color over the next few weeks.
To get a sense of what the canyon can look like around peak color, check out the CaliTrails report from a visit three years ago. One note to consider, however: Lake Sabrina and South Lake are currently drained by the water utilities, making photography a bit difficult in those spots.
Both Sabrina Campground and Surveyors Meadow are accessible by car. From U.S. 395 in Bishop, go west on State Route 168 for about 15 miles until you hit South Lake Road.
- For Lake Sabrina, continue on the 168 for another three miles until you reach the campground (the road dead ends soon, anyway). The campground is first come, first serve for $21 per site per night (same deal for other area campgrounds like North Lake, Bishop Park, Four Jeffrey, Forks, Willow, Intake Two, Intake Two Walk-In).
- For Surveyors Meadow, turn left onto South Lake Road and go for about six miles. Park near the South Fork Cafe at Parchers. Take the nearby trailhead about 100 yards to the meadow.