Fall Colors at Convict Lake

I had postponed my eastern Sierra fall colors trip twice already and I was getting anxious. Since I’m on a tight budget, I couldn’t just drive up each weekend and hope. Hearing that the colors have peaked, Since the first few days of the week are harder then the last few days of the week, I reserved the car for Friday. Yes, I had to reserve it because we only have one car and my wife is the “taxi” for the family!

Since Friday was almost a week away, I had lot of time to wait and hope that a storm wouldn’t come in and blow all the leaves away. My wife suggest since she was off on Thursday, I decided that that would work for me too. I struggled with either booking a room or a marathon day trip (remember the budget), I picked a day trip.

Wednesday night I went to bed at 9:30pm and woke up at 1:30am, Thursday morning. Usually I go to bed at that time. Since I wasn’t tired, I think I managed to get 1 or 2 hours of sleep. Took a shower, made my breakfast, lunch, snacks, water for the day….and of course my coffee and left the house at 2am.

I arrived at Convict Lake around 6am and waited in the car until I could see some light. Not familiar with the area, I picked the spillway bridge as my location for the morning. Here is the first picture from that morning…

Fall colors at Convict Lake

Mike Matenkosky

Mike is a Central Valley California landscape and nature photographer whose subjects include scenes from Merced County, Yosemite, SeKi, and the eastern Sierra. He is currently living in Atwater, CA.

The text and photographs are © Copyright Mike Matenkosky (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Mike Matenkosky.


  1. Oh my gosh Mike this pic of pre dawn convict lake is gorgeous, gorgeous gorgeous.. Thanks for sharing…


  2. Thank you Kathy, I think this is my favorite of the 150+ pictures I took that day. I will post more in the next few days, so stay tune…


  3. I slept in on that Thursday and left our condo in Mammoth and headed north toward Mono Lake. The forest service was having a ‘controlled burn’ just east of June Lake, so any views greater than a quarter mile were hopelessly smoky. Hope you stayed south of Mammoth that day.

    Your lighting on that dawn shot is really nice.


  4. Jon,

    Thanks! I saw the burn that morning. Thankfully it didn’t effect where I was planning on going.


  5. Great story and shot, Mike. The only thing I want to know is how you can do all that prep in 30 minutes before leaving the house. Any one of those activities takes me 30 minutes. Anyway, looking forward to seeing more shots from your trip.



  6. Joel,

    Glad you liked it. I had my food already prep’d and sitting in the fridge. All I had to do is take a shower and made coffee.


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