We’ve reached that time of year where the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences that much-anticipated change in fall foliage. Typically, this change happens around the middle of October, but many factors contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles north-to-south, meanders from east- to west-facing slopes, and, most importantly, varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at James River in Virginia to over 6,000 feet south of Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina.
Many visitors have been frustrated trying to go to one spot on one day in October, hoping to find the leaves in full color. A far better plan is to drive some distance on the Parkway, changing elevations and north-south orientation. Anyone who does this from now until late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.
Mileposts 29-45, Humpback Rocks to Montabello
In the northernmost part of the Parkway in Virginia, fall colors are rolling right along, with wonderful colors between mileposts 29 and 45. There are lots of yellows, golds, burnt oranges, and maroon reds. The drive between Humpback Rocks and Montabello is at peak or just slightly past, with the hickory, ash, sourwood, Virginia creeper, striped maple, and red maple species showing good peak colors.
Most of the color has shifted to lower elevations, but patches on some of the mountain summits are still quite colorful.
Between the Linn Cove Viaduct at milepost 304 and Flat Rock at milepost 308, the drive is full of vibrant red and oranges. The leaves are past their peak, but many trees are still holding on to their color.
At Linville Falls, the leaves are just past their peak, but there are still many maples and elms with yellow and red leaves.
Driving north from Chestoah Overlook at milepost 320, you can see the western rim of Linville Gorge. There, leaves are just past their peak, but you can still see numerous shades of yellow through the valley.
Driving from Crabtree Falls to Mt. Mitchell, the colors are still quite vibrant. The reds, yellows, and oranges are making their way into the valleys. The summits are past their peak, but leaves are at their peak just down the mountains.
Further south on the Parkway, there is still a fair amount of green at the lowest elevations, but most of the trees at the higher elevations have lost their leaves. Good color can be seen driving from Asheville towards Craggy Gardens and Pisgah areas. The colors are at peak in the 3,000 foot elevation range, with lots of yellows and golds and the reds of the oaks, sourwoods, and dogwoods providing a nice visual contrast.
Enjoy October in the mountains. As always, we remind you to drive safely. Enjoy the view, but watch the road.