Fall Foliage California Getaways | Celebrate Autumn Weekends, Any Time

California Fall Foliage rivals Vermont leaf peeping, with some of the finest visual experiences that travelers can find on the trail for great weekend getaways. The granddaddy of the fall foliage season, Inyo National Forest, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007.

Fall foliage in California is strikingly different than Vermont's, as is its skiing. The size and shape of the mountains and meadows help orchestrate the annual symphony of color that is not to be missed. Californians need drive only a few hours to enjoy stunning views shown above in Lee Vining in Mono County. It is part of the Inyo National Forest and is close to the well known ski resort, Mammoth Mountain.

While the springtime offers cacti in full bloom in the deserts after a rain, your best bet for fall foliage with be in cities that have elevations above sea level...mostly hills and mountains. That's why our fall list of trips includes not only the redwood forests of Eureka and Humboldt County, but also places such as Idyllwild, just a short drive outside L.A. in Southern California. Located in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California not far from places such as Hemet and Temecula wine country,  you can take in the mountain hikes, and within an hour or two be sipping wine, or event make a jaunt over the mountain to Palm Desert.  In contrast to the heat of the Palm Spring, the autumn takes on a crisp, cool chill before winter arrives, and even a dusting of snow in Idyllwild. In addition to being the film location for the Elvis movie, Kid Galahad, many a star has stayed in Idyllwild, where a school for the performing arts takes acting as serious as you take your weekend vacation. Maple trees turn a brilliant red and the yellow cottonwoods begin their annual wind dance, twisting and turning before they drop to the ground where they eventually fade, forgotten till spring comes with a brand new crop of leaves.

One of our favorite  for weekends in California is fall foliage trips to Placer County. The best way to get there if you don't live close by is flying into Sacramento Airport, then renting a car for a short drive to the hills of gold outside of town. Placer County features an autumn art and wine celebrations that includes the annual Cowboy Poetry Festival in Loomis. It's just awesome. And being autumn, you'll find delicious just-picked crops at celebrations of wine and fruits.  Our favorite place to book a hotel room on this drive is Roseville because it offers so many hotels that empty out on weekends when the business people head home from the big corporate offices the city is becoming known for.

Spring, summer, fall or winter...there's never a bad time to visit Yosemite National Park, so Ansel Adams could attest. While he left his mark with incredible contributions to the field of photography, in Yosemite he helped create a legacy with the Bracebridge Dinners. While our visit there found a very mild Christmas in the mountains, fall is actually filled with romance as the millions of tourists head back with their kids to school and work. Granite cliffs formed from millions of years of earth events will leave a lump in your throat. But the trees and leaves in any season are just so stunning in Yosemite. There are only a few Yosemite National Park hotels so you simple find availability, then book it and go.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, home to the giant Sequoia trees spanning several millennia, both lie on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains east of San Joaquin valley. If the world's largest trees don't wow you, the fall foliage will with the crisp colors such as bright yellow or orange. Kings Canyon / Sequoia Park offers around 10 hotels at reasonable prices.  Wuksachi Village Lodge is a popular choice for its proximity close to shopping and dining. Driving through the forest is only one activity in this richly patterned tapestry of color. Crystal Cave is open for guided tours through late October each year, and re-opens in May. Giant Forest and the northern section of Sequoia National Park, the second oldest National Park, includes four of the world's five largest sequoias. http://www.sequoiahistory.org/cave/cave.htm

A weekend getaway to enjoy the leaves need not require the feeling of roughing it. In fact, the perfect blend of nature and casinos for gambling, nightlife and golf, make for a beautiful drive or ride in a bus to South Lake Tahoe. From northern Californians it is no stretch to hop in a car and head on over to some Stateline casino fun, while watching the leaves turn in the fall. For Southern Californians and people around the nation, just fly into Reno where buses will pick you up for rides directly to the hotels in South Lake Tahoe. How cool is that? While letting someone else do the driving, you get to watch the beautiful leaves on the trees out the window. It's the perfect way to unwind and soak up the fall in California, where people have found it there really are four seasons. You just have to get away from the Southern California beaches to see them.



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Lee Vining