The 150 miles of Highway 395 between Topaz and Bishop (also known as the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway) ranks right up there with coastal Highway 1 as California's most scenic drive. You'll have trouble keeping Rover's head inside the window and your eyes on the asphalt as you travel this gorgeous route tracing the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada. Pick a side road, almost any side road, and you and your four-legged friend will find yourselves surrounded by rugged canyons, granite peaks, rushing streams and vast displays of aspens, cottonwoods and willows that paint the landscape in yellows, oranges and reds for a few short weeks each autumn.
The color show generally begins in mid-September at the high lakes (around 9,000 feet) in Inyo County and crawls down about 1,000 feet of elevation a week to fizzle out by late October. Because color change occurs according to elevation, what you see depends on where and when you travel.
You can enjoy the eastern Sierra's kaleidoscopic foliage vicariously through photographs posted at California Fall Color, a website managed by DogTrekker John Poimiroo; and in the Sacramento Bee's Fall Leaves pages, which include an interactive "fall color tracker" map updated weekly by photographer Dave Henry. (Both sites will become active as soon as the leaves begin to change.) The Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide covering Mono and Inyo counties can also help pinpoint leaf-peeping hot spots.
Photo: Eastern Sierra Fall Color - Joe DSilva (CC)