This is the Blue Ridge Parkway fall color report for October 18th. The color has been spectacular in most areas of the Parkway this year, and according to most accounts, it’s the best in several years. Once the colors turn, however a cold front, or a day of wind and rain can bring them down in a hurry, so don’t delay your trip too long. Obviously, weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Early morning and late afternoon sun also tend to reveal more color, so photographers can plan accordingly. In the northern sections of the Parkway from Afton Mountain down through the Peaks of Otter, the Dogwoods have assumed their classic, rusty red along with the bright yellow Poplars. Maples are turning, although perhaps not quite at their peak color yet. Virginia Creeper is showing nice and bright on the rocky outcrops throughout this area. The Roanoke valley is nice right now, especially note the drive around Roanoke Moutain. In Rocky Knob and Mabry Mill, the Maples and Poplar, Dogwood, and Ashe are near their peak color. The agricultural scenes in this area are showing signs of fall harvest, accented by blooms of Golden Rod and a variety of Asters. The Doughton Park area of the Parkway in North Carolina, protected coves and mountainsides are starting to turn, but the peak is past in the higher elevations of exposed mountaintops as rain and wind have come through over the past week. In Sandy Flats, which is the Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain area, Aster and Witchhazel, and Yellow Ironweed are the predominant fall blooms, and the leaf color is past its’ peak with muted colors in many areas. It’s still worth the drive however. South of Asheville, the 5,000 foot elevations have been stripped of all their leaves, but at lower elevations, especially looking down into the valleys from overlooks, the color is beautiful. Weekends in October can be crowded, so expect heavy traffic and use the overlooks for frequent rest to allow faster moving cars to pass by. Remember the Parkway has tighter than normal curves, early morning fog, and lots of wildlife that demand more caution than your typical driving experience. Enjoy the view but watch the road!
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