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Fall Foliage Tours of Mono County California

Mono County, Calif.--Millions living near the California coast believe there are no seasons. Pity the poor L.A../OC residents who think that way! It is time to educate us city dwellers to the world beyond the beach, and it's also time to get out and explore California's rich, diverse landscapes that include four distinct seasons and colorful fall foliage. Offering  grand displays of red, orange, yellow, gold and lime green leaves each autumn, the Sierra mountains and foothills will surely put you in the mood for a white winter vacation at Mammoth Mountain.

foliage map

Some good news for California travelers on a budget--whether saving pennies or saving time, Mono County mountains and valleys offer vivid displays to rival Vermont in September & October when the leaves change color. At a fraction of the cost and time expense, a half-day drive from Southern or Northern California urban areas may reward modern day explorers with the most outrageous displays of fall foliage (see John Poimiroo photo above) to rival any on earth. Saving one full day of travel and over $400 in airfare and car rental that it costs just one person to fly to Vermont, you can fill up your car with passengers, your tank with gas, and have a blast seeing California's third season at its best.

There's really one way to see the leaves change color, according to Sarah McCahill, who promotes tourism in Mono County. And it's all about the drive, she says. McCahill recently announced the release of "Fall Color Guide",  showing 17 places you can easily access by car to enjoy California's stunning fall foliage displays. The free color map with descriptions and detailed driving directions is ideal for weekend getaways or mid-week visits.

It would take about two days to see all the leaf viewing stops on the map, says John Poimiroo (pŏm-ŭ-rō) who helped  produce the much-needed product that assists travelers in finding the "secret" spots. He's observed the fall foliage displays for years and has spoken about them often on radio and TV. For those with limited time, he suggests you visit just a few, easily accessible locations such as Lee Vining shown in the photo above. The guide, which includes precise information on how to get to there, describes Lee Vining Canyon as 35 miles north of Mammoth Lakes. Take Highway 395 to the Tioga Pass/Yosemite National Park turnoff. Highway 120 climbs through a steep canyon, affording incredible views of the rugged landscape and the canyon’s fall colors. If you continue on Highway 120, you’ll reach Tioga Pass and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. 

According to the map the next stop can by another fantastic vista at magnificent Mono Lake. This ancient inland sea features mysterious tufa towers and is a sanctuary for millions of migrating birds.

"You won't see all locations listed in the guide changing color at the same time," said Poimiroo, who explains that the leaves generally change 1,000 feet of elevation per week as the cold temperatures also begin to drop. Starting at the top of the mountain in mid-September, the colorful displays move their way from higher elevations of an approx. 11,053-foot mountain to the foothills, taking over a month and a half to complete their annual cycle. If you time it right, you'll be rewarded with colorful displays that you'd hardly believe. California offers every season for those prepared to purchase a jacket, say goodbye to the beach and explore its beauty.

Get the info: There are several ways to get the map and additional information on traveling to four seasons destinations in Mono County.  Mono County Tourism Commission can be reached toll free at: 800 845-7922. You can download the free guide or order through their website, www.monocounty.org



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