Late September and early October bring with them lots of changes to the Blue Ridge landscape. Including tremendous displays of Hawk migration, Monarch Butterfly migration, and of course the first cool, crisp days of Autumn. October weekends are among the busiest of times here and if at all possible plan your trip for weekdays. The crowds will be much smaller. Fields of wildflowers still dominate many areas as Sunflower, Ironweed and Goldenrod, Bee Balm, and Joe-Pye Weed line up the roadside, especially in the agricultural lands adjacent to the Parkway. Row crops of pumpkins or cabbage and corn are reminders as well of the agricultural heritage of this part of the country. The Locust and Dogwood are turning a rusty and red wine color along many areas of the mid-elevations of the Parkway, especially south of Roanoke, Virginia with a few yellows turning on the high mountains as well. The big news color now is the rapid onset of peak color in the high elevations above 5,000 feet just north and south of Asheville, North Carolina. This coming weekend may have peak color around Waterrock Knob, Graveyard Fields, and Mt. Pisgah. After the severe heat and drought conditions such as those this summer, leaf color can be just as brilliant but short-lived, so catch the good color areas as soon as possible. Typically, the Parkway experiences the much anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October. Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where those colors will peak. The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles north to south, it meanders from east to west facing slopes, and most importantly, it varies in elevation, from just under 650 feet at the James River in Virginia to over 6,000 feet south of Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina. Plan to drive just some distance on the Parkway-changing elevations and north-south orientation. Anyone who does this around mid- to late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for. Have a safe Parkway visit and don’t let the visual distractions of the season keep you from watching the road as well. Weekly updates at 828-298-0398 will keep you informed of what’s being reported throughout the Parkway.
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