Fall foliage in the Sierra Nevada Allie Caulfield / Flickr
Fall foliage in the Sierra Nevada (Allie Caulfield / Flickr)

California Fall Foliage: It's Real, and There's a Map for That

California Fall Foliage: It's Real, and There's a Map for That

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When it comes to fall foliage, California's landscapes are often overlooked in favor of more famous autumnal destinations on the East Coast, like New England.

Luckily for Golden State leaf-lovers, there's an online guide to the best places to see fall foliage in California.

Autumn foliage in Yosemite National Park (Always Shooting / Flickr)

California Fall Color (which bears the tagline "Dude, autumn happens here too") offers not only peak foliage dates and photos, but a crowdsourced California Fall Color Map that shows the spots where fall foliage can be glimpsed right now—and where it's about to peak.

The site, and that crowdsourced map, are the work of John Poimiroo, a travel writer and tourism professional who gets his tips (and accompanying photographs) from volunteer leaf enthusiasts, public lands agencies and "destination marketing organizations."

According to California Fall Color, the best places to see fall foliage include not just the Sierras but also the North Coast (Redwood National and State Parks), California's vineyards, Gold Country, the Central Valley and the state's urban forests, including those in the Bay Area.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra (Greg Balzer / Flickr)

Why does California get such a bad rap for fall foliage? According to Poimiroo, it's because much of our state's population lives on the Pacific coast, where true fall color is admittedly rare. And yet, across the state, California's range of elevations and temperate climate conspire to allow an "extraordinary variety of deciduous trees and plants." So basically, you should stop dreaming of Vermont and appreciate the possibilities in your own backyard.

Remember: Poimiroo's site advises that regardless of location, peak color takes about two weeks to evolve from Near Peak to Past Peak, unless weather cuts it even shorter. So if you're tempted to go check out a certain spot for our state's autumnal hues that's already a riot of color, you might want to move fast.