The Mount Rose Highway (State Route 431) curves up the hillside from Reno to about 8,900 feet above sea level. The views of Reno you’ll see while driving up it serve as an opening act to the main show provided by the fall color.
Sometimes, a fall color show in a given area doesn’t happen all at once. It occurs in stages. That’s what I found when I ventured up the Mount Rose Highway from Reno for a spur-of-the-moment evening drive on October 1, 2021.
At around 8,000 feet, the fun began. That’s where a grove of reddish orange aspens blazed up a hill alongside the highway. They were definitely At Peak. Across the road, aspens were turning yellow, although some of them did have some black spots on them. I’d put those at Near Peak.
Farther up the road near the ski area, a grove of aspens were Patchy.
Past that, the setting sun lit up bright yellow trees across Tahoe Meadows. Those meadow-side aspens were At Peak.
One of the best displays was a colorful hillside across from Tahoe Meadows and alongside the highway. The entire hill was covered in smaller aspens and some willows. Many of those aspens had turned a beautiful reddish orange and were At Peak while others along the hillside were Near Peak.
The willows in Tahoe Meadows and other places along the highway were patiently waiting their turn. It was as if they didn’t want to steal the show away from the aspens. They were still Patchy.
Overall, I’d rate the Mount Rose Highway as Getting Better, although good-sized spots here and there are At Peak. There are also a few tiny areas that are in the Fading category. Below around 7,700 feet, the aspens are still green.
Is The Mount Rose Campground Still Open For the Season?
By the way, the Mount Rose Campground gate was closed for the season during my October 1 visit to the area. That’s too bad because that’s one of our favorite campgrounds. The walk-in spaces there have some good privacy and great views of Mount Rose. We have fond memories of the three days we spent at that campground, and we wrote about the campsites with the most privacy in our Lake Tahoe Camping With Privacy Book available on Amazon, at Sundance Books in Reno, or Shelby’s in Minden. We suggest putting that campground on your bucket list for next summer.
Mount Rose (8,000 feet and Above)
Overall Area: Getting Better (40%)
Aspens Around 8,000 feet: Near Peak (50%) to Peak (100%)
Mount Rose Highway Near Ski Area: Patchy (20%)
Aspens Next To Tahoe Meadows: At Peak (100%)
Hillside Across Highway from Tahoe Meadows: Near Peak (60%) to Peak (100%)
Willows by Tahoe Meadows: Patchy (10%)