October has arrived and we know it by those very cool nights and a few of those crisp days that define this month along the Blue Ridge. Of course we also know it’s October because the color that we’re famous for is beginning to show especially in the higher elevations.
Fall is still a month for wildflower displays as Goldenrod and Astor are along the roadsides along with some fall blooms such as Black Eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Joe-Pye Weed and that orange Turks Cap Lily. This is indeed a wonderful time of year for many meadows and roadsides to show off the last of the year’s blooms.
Early signs of fall are present throughout most of the mid-elevations of the Parkway. The Dogwoods have assumed that rusty red and Tulip Poplars are displaying yellow. Maples are in the earliest stages of color.
The Sumacs and Sourwoods are already displaying some red foliage. Lot of bright red Virginia Creeper is at its peak spreading across rocks on the roadsides in many places.In the very high elevations, especially south of Asheville, North Carolina, Birches and Sourwoods are changing rapidly with Mountain Ash berries in abundance this year.
Typically the Parkway experiences that much anticipated turning of leaves during the middle couple of weeks of October. It will hang on later into the month perhaps even into November depending on the weather.
Elevation makes a difference along with your north/south orientation and east or west facing slopes. The best opportunity to see color is to drive a good distance on the Parkway so that all of these factors come into play.
Fall color is one of those built in distractions that we talk about that can tempt you to take your eyes off the road. Be especially careful, use the overlooks for resting and taking in the scenery. As we always tell visitors, enjoy the view, but watch the road!
Regular updates for color reports will be posted to our web site home page. You can also use the National Park Service information line at 828-298-0398 to keep informed of what’s being reported on the Parkway.