Fall colors in Apple Hill, El Dorado County | Photo: Jill Nauman

Where to find fall colors around El Dorado County

Leaf peepers, social media rock stars, and anyone looking for Mother Nature’s annual show of colors will find that in spades in and around El Dorado County during the autumn, where the trees explode in color from late September through early December.

Those looking for the first colors of the season should head to the Carson Pass, Hope Valley, and Monitor Pass regions, accessible via state highways 88 and 89. Here, expansive hillsides of quaking aspen flame brilliant gold, with occasional hints of orange. The dark blue high-elevation skies, craggy snow-dusted peaks, and greenish-black conifers are a dramatic contrast – and ensure your Instagram photos will pop!

Typically in the high country, fall colors peak in early to mid-October. Especially showy stands are located in and around Carson Pass, especially east of Caples Lake and the turnoff to Woods Lake. East of Carson Pass, Hope Valley offers spectacular displays of fall colors. You can also see spectacular vistas and showy fall displays near the summit of Luther Pass.

The high country doesn’t have all the fun. Fall colors are everywhere at lower altitudes, too. The native black oak, found throughout the Sierra Nevada foothills between elevations of about 1,000 and 5,000 feet, boasts leaves that turn a brilliant gold. If you happen to be traveling on Highway 50 through Placerville in El Dorado County, you will also see fiery-red pistachio trees.

Here are a few of our favorite places to spot fall at its best:

South Fork American River Fall colors
Fall colors along the South Fork of the American River.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Enjoy the spectacular view along the American River as well as the many stands of colorful trees along Hwy 49 heading toward Auburn. Located in Coloma on Highway 49.

Fall colors in Apple Hill, El Dorado County
Apple Hill comes alive with fall colors. Photo: Jill E. Nauman

Apple Hill

Brilliant fall colors provide a beautiful backdrop for this bucolic farm region. Sample a multitude of apple and pumpkin delicacies at the many farms and orchards while you view the splendor of fall. Located in Camino off Highway 50.

Grass Lake

You’ll find magnificent groves of Quaking Aspen surrounding his beautiful lake/meadow located at the top of Luther Pass on Highway 89 just off Highway 50.

Fallen Leaf Lake

Take a short hike to the shores of the lake, where you can see Mt. Tallac framed by Quaking Aspen. Located on Fallen Leaf Lake Road off Highway 89 just north of South Lake Tahoe.

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Upcoming El Dorado County Events

Where to find fall colors around El Dorado County
Where to find fall colors around El Dorado County
Where to find fall colors around El Dorado County

Community Events Calendar

April 19, 2024
Imagination Theater Presents - Winnie the Pooh
April 25, 2024
4:30 pm Live Podcast: Ben Goldfarb
8:00 pm Poor Red's Trivia Night
April 26, 2024
REGISTER NOW: "Buckaroo" Outdoor Adventure Summer Camp
1:00 pm Gold Rush 2.0
3:15 pm William Brooks Bear Business Fair
5:00 pm Live Music at Hwy 50 Brewery
5:00 pm Stand Up for MORE Comedy Night