Islands of Aspens at Austin Summit

Austin Summit is one of the most unique places in Nevada to view fall color. Islands of aspens grow on the steep, dry hillsides as if the aspen islands are sculptures hanging on the walls of a museum. They’re on display from Highway 50 as you’re driving into or out of Austin, Nevada.

But the best way to view them is to park at the beginning of the dirt road on the highpoint of the highway. You can hike up the road or make it a fall color drive with an off highway vehicle (OHV) or high clearance vehicle. This is a good place for mountain bikes, too, since there’s an expert trail on the top of the road.

Fall Color Near Austin, Nevada
Austin Summit, Fall Color, 10-6-23, Kim Wilkes

The Two-Part Show Is Starting

On October 6, 2023, driving back across the state from Great Basin National Park, I hiked up the dirt road on Austin Summit to the mountain bike trail. Along the way, I admired aspen groves that were half a golden yellow and half a lime-green. The parts of the groves that are golden right now are near peak, getting close to peak.

Austin Summit, View From Mountain Bike Trailhead, 10-6-23, Kim Wilkes
Austin, Nevada Fall Color

However, due to all the trees that are still green, it looks like this area is going to put on a two-part show.

Austin Summit Green and Gold Aspens
A Half-and-Half Mixture of Greens and Golds, 10-6-23, Kim Wilkes
Fall Color on Austin Summit, 10-6-23, Kim Wilkes

Aspens, Wildflowers, and Great Views

Aspens aren’t all you’ll see on the road. As you’re traveling up the dirt road, you’ll have an eagle’s eye view of the town of Austin, Nevada. Some late-season wildflowers dot the side of the road here and there.

Late Season Lupine
Late-Season Lupine at Austin Summit, 10-6-23, Kim Wilkes

Where the road tops out at the mountain bike trail, more islands of aspens are visible in the distance.

The mountain bike trail looks like it plunges down the hillside, so take the “experts only” sign seriously.

I think this area will pick up more orange color, if the weather permits. Some red-orange is already showing up a little east of the dirt road, visible from Highway 50.

Austin Summit Fall Color Update

Austin Summit – Half the trees are near peak, the other half an intense lime-green

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