This is the Blue Ridge Parkway wildflower and fall color report for September 21st, 2007. September brings lots of things to the Blue Ridge including tremendous displays of Hawk migration, Monarch Butterfly migration and of course the first cool, crisp days of autumn. Parkway visitation tends to drop prior to high visitation of October weekends. For that reason a drive along the mountain road may be especially relaxing for those who can plan a trip this month. Late summer and early fall blooms are still hanging on with fields of Queen-Anne’s Lace, Crown Vetch, Sunflowers and Ironweed highlight the agricultural scenes. Joe-Pye Weed and Goldenrod are also common. Fall flowers in the high southern elevations of the Parkway include Aster and Goldenrod, Ironweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Green-Headed Coneflower and Coreopsis. Some early fall yellow colors are reported among the Locusts between Linville Falls and Crabtree Meadows as well as the red of Sumac along the roadsides in many Parkway locations. Typically the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences a much anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October. Many factors contribute to variations and when and where those colors will peak. Since the Parkway stretches 500 miles from north to south and meanders from east to west facing slopes and varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at the 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 on the Parkway changing elevations and your north to south orientation. Anyone who does this around the middle to late part of October will catch at least some of the pretty color we’re famous for. Have a safe Parkway visit by remembering that with a drive along this mountain road comes some steep inclines and steep curves, built-in distractions such as wildlife and bicycles. Pull off into one of the overlooks if traffic backs up behind you. As we often say, enjoy the view, but watch the road. Weekly updates at 828-298-0398 will keep you informed of what’s being reported throughout the Parkway.
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