The fall color is beginning to show some during this last week of September, especially at the higher elevations of North Carolina. Typically, the Parkway experiences the much anticipated change in fall colors around the middle of October. Many factors however contribute to variations in when and where the color will peak. The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles from north to south. It meanders from east to west facing slopes and, most importantly, varies in elevation. The Parkway varies from just under 650 feet at James River in Virginia to over 6000 feet south of Mount 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 from the Parkway, changing elevations and east to west orientation. Anyone who does this around mid to late October will catch at least some of the pretty colors that we are thankful for. Here is the latest in terms of fall wildflowers and a few of the early signs of autumn leaf color along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the agricultural fields along the Parkway, south of Roanoke, look for Sunflower, Golden Rod, Iron Weed and the brilliant Red Scarlet Flower. Maples should be changing to red, Poplars to yellow in a few locations and Dogwood with its rust red leaves are beginning to show as well. In Doughton Park of North Carolina look for many of the same species along with Norasters, Indian Pipe, Jewel Weed and some Dogwoods and Maples beginning to show color. There are a few bright patches of intense color right around Bluff’s Lodge now. Around Grandfather Mountain the Maples are very nice and red. At Linn Cove Viaduct, the Dogwoods are turning as well. The color seems to be far superior to last year. South of Asheville in the high elevations, Graveyard Fields may have peak color as early as this weekend, with everything over five thousand feet nearing its peak. The lower elevations are showing some patchy color right now. Witch Hazel and Mountain Ashe are very nice. Look for the common wildflowers such as Golden Rod, Ironweed, Asters and Snakeroot. Above all, we encourage you to have safe Parkway experience. Remember that tighter than normal curves, early morning fog, and the presence of wildlife on the roadside demands more caution than does your typical driving experience. Enjoy the view, but watch the road.
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