Where to Find Fall Color in Yosemite
Although you might not notice them the rest of the year, the bigleaf maple really stands out in the Fall when it’s leaves turn golden yellow and line the Merced River and the creek and streams.
Around the Valley look for yellows and browns on the black oaks; reds and yellows on the dogwoods and brilliant yellow on the black cottonwood. A favorite fall tree among visitors is the the non-native sugar maple that turns a brilliant red near the Yosemite Chapel and makes for a great photo opportunity.
Look for a lot of yellow, such as from deer brush yellows and low-growing shrubs and, in a few locations, the yellows and oranges from quaking aspen.
In Wawona Look for yellows, dark oranges and browns on the black oaks. You can also sometimes find reds and yellows on the dogwoods. Big leaf maples and cottonwoods have brilliant yellow leaves before they drop.
Along Highway 120 be on the lookout for Aspens which can turn beautiful yellow. You won’t find the huge stands of the Eastern Sierra but there are a few small stands.
In some meadows you can find bracken ferns that turn yellow and very quickly to brown and some grasses and sedges that turn a golden yellow color.
Willows and cottonwoods (Fremont and black) along the riverbanks are you best bet in the El Portal area usually getting a bit of yellow before the leaves drop. At lower elevations you can also find oaks whose leaves turn yellow to orange/brown, and the wild grape vines with yellow leaves. You can also look for the beautiful reds of poison oak but be sure you don’t touch. They’re still just as full of urushiol in Fall as in Spring.