There are two kinds of falls right now in Yosemite Valley. One comes from the time of year, and the other is a little bit unusual, the result of some powerful storms a few weeks ago.
Fall in California is not like fall in other places. It may start in the high country in late September, but it can take until mid-November at the lower elevations, for instance in the Great Valley or Bay Area (our most intense colors in town have yet to materialize). And even though fall started weeks ago in places like Yosemite Valley, there are still enough leaves hanging on to provide a colorful treat to visitors this weekend.
The other wondrous fall is that of the waterfalls in the valley. They are often still dry at this point in the year, as few storms have usually occurred this early. But the intense storms of two weeks ago are still draining over the brink of the valley walls. I wrote about the waterfalls two weeks ago when we visited in the midst of the storms, but I wasn't expecting to see them still going after all this time. It was a beautiful sight.
So enjoy some beautiful colors! In the picture above, Upper Yosemite Falls peeks out between the trees near Yosemite Lodge.
Sentinel Dome is a striking tower of granitic rock that is sometimes missed because it is on the valley wall opposite of Yosemite Falls.
Coming from the northwest entrance on Highway 120, the first view of the valley includes Half Dome and the top of El Capitan.
Yosemite Falls remains one of the most awesome sights on the planet. It drops a half mile over a sheer cliff and through a maze of granite clefts. To see the falls flowing while fall colors remain (barely) on the trees is a special treat.
Fall colors come in small spaces as well. We walked through the fen at Happy Isles and saw all kinds of color in the low shrubs and ferns. Water always flows here from springs in the rock debris at the base of the nearby cliff.
I had one other special treat today by taking a few moments to walk up the Inspiration Point Trail above Tunnel View. I got 200-300 feet above the parking area, and away from the noise of traffic and tourists. From my quiet vantage point, I had a glorious view of the entire valley. The only sad note is that what looks like fall color in the valley is not. The reddish patches in the forest are dead conifer trees, victims of California's ongoing five year drought. Without sufficient water, the trees don't have enough sap to fight off the borer beetles. It's just one more sign of the profound effect global warming is having on our world.