The Big Freeze: Did It Ruin Northern Nevada Fall Color?

The last big nighttime freeze that happened recently did a number of many of the trees, with the leaves of the cottonwoods and maples turning brown. So is there any fall foliage left in Northern Nevada? Here’s a report on what’s happening around the area.

Carson Valley

The recent cold snap turned many of the cottonwoods brown, and thanks to the wind, most of the maples lost their leaves. I was afraid that the cottonwood leaves that were still green might have frozen green, since they looked drab. But now it looks like many of the cottonwoods are turning gold after all, especially along the banks of the Carson River by the golf course in Gardnerville. Hopefully, that color will progress over the next few days. 

Reno Fall Color 

In Reno, there was still a surprising amount of autumn foliage remaining when I was there on Thursday, November 2. The cottonwoods there didn’t look as affected by the freezing nighttime temperatures as the ones in the Carson Valley. They were turning yellow and looked quite pretty, especially combined with the other red trees in the area. There were also a couple patches of cottonwood color in northern Washoe Valley.

Wadsworth, Nixon, Pyramid Lake

Fading Fall Color in Wadsworth, 10-28-23, Patrick Wilkes

When professional photographer Patrick Wilkes visited there last Saturday, October 28, the cottonwoods were past peak with some patches of yellow color here and there. Of course, Pyramid Lake is such a beautiful blue, so that may be the only fall color you need while you’re there.

Dayton State Park

Dayton State Park fall color
Fall Color in Dayton State Park after the first frost, 10-28-23, Patrick Wilkes

Patrick visited Dayton State Park on his way back from Pyramid Lake on Saturday, October 28. Most of the color had faded thanks to the cold snap, with some green remaining. The remaining green may give rise to a bit more color as this week wears on. All bets are off there.

Just Across the State Line

On Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, we traveled just over the state line in California to the bottom of Woodfords Canyon, near Gardnerville. The aspens at the bottom of the canyon looked like they had not been affected by the cold and were either a healthy lime green or gold tinged with orange. We haven’t been up there during this past week to see how things have progressed, but we believe there may be splashes of color remaining there.

Northern Nevada Fall Color Update, November 3, 2023

Reno – At Peak, 75%

Carson Valley – Past peak, but there may be a second wave of color as the cottonwoods by the golf course turn.

Dayton State Park – Past peak but you may find a few splashes of color as more green leaves could turn gold. 

Wadsworth, Nixon, Pyramid Lake – Past peak, but a few splashes of color as some of the cottonwoods may still turn yellow.

Lower Woodford’s Canyon – Still some color hanging on as of last Sunday. Some of the aspens were just starting their change from green to yellow so by this weekend you may find some color left there. 

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