Fall Color Near Elko: Lamoille Canyon Is Peaking

Lamoille Canyon fooled me.

During my visit on October 6, 2021, cottonwoods and other trees and shrubs added splashes of color by the Powerhouse Picnic area at the bottom of the canyon. This area was in the Getting Better stage.

Lamoille Canyon Powerhouse Picnic Area fall foliage, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes

After that, driving up to mid-canyon things looked drab. As drab as they possible could in one of Nevada’s most beautiful canyons located in one of Nevada’s most beautiful mountain ranges. I’m referring to the Ruby Mountains, which rise over 11,000 feet above sea level to create a scene worthy of anything you’ll see in a national park.

A fire had swept through the mid-elevations of the canyon. The aspens on the canyon slopes were recovering by sending up baby trees, but they were Past Peak. Some color here and there brightened up the area along the creek at canyon bottom. But I expected more.

I thought, is this it? Is this all the color I’m going to see?

But then I got to Thomas Canyon Campground where Lamoille Canyon redeemed itself. The trees here were At Peak. They cascaded down the mountainside in a river of gold.

Thomas Canyon Campground, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes
View above Thomas Canyon Campground, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes

Seeing Red

I drove a little ways up the road where the aspen action really got good. An angler’s trail led down to the stream. Alongside the path, a number of trees had turned an intense scarlet red. Others added orange or gold to the fall color palette.  A smattering of green trees provided nice contrast.

Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes
Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes
Lamoille Canyon fall colors, Ruby Mountains, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes

The moment I caught sight of this amazing scene I did a double take. I said, “Wow!” even though there was no one there to hear me but the bird I startled out of the trees.

In the other direction, a sea of golden aspens stretched almost as far as the eye could see.

Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes

To make the scene even more beautiful, beaver ponds provided pretty reflections of the trees and mountains.

Lamoille Canyon beaver pond, 10-6-21, Kim Wilkes

The color is going strong up until right before the road ends. At road’s end, it’s Past Peak.

Will The Upcoming Storms Ruin the Fall Color at Lamoille Canyon?

Rain and snow are likely to fall in Lamoille Canyon Thursday, Friday, and Friday night into Saturday morning. The leaves may survive this first storm. It doesn’t have high winds. And the temperatures are cold but not bitterly cold. So the leaves should stay on the trees and hopefully won’t freeze.

There’ll be a break between this storm and the one coming in Sunday night and lasting through Tuesday. You might be able to get in some foliator action in Saturday afternoon or Sunday.

The Monday, October 11 and Tuesday, October 12 storm is colder. In fact, the snow level may drop to many of Nevada’s valleys. The cold could damage the leaves. But this isn’t a certainty. So if you’re in the area after the storm rolls through, take a drive up Lamoille Canyon to see what’s left of the color. Just be sure to check the weather before you go.

Lamoille Canyon Fall Foliage Report

Powerhouse Picnic Area: Getting Better (45%)

Mid-Lamoille Canyon: Past Peak

Upper Lamoille Canyon (Thomas Canyon Campground and Above): At Peak (90%)

Road’s End: Past Peak

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