It’s the middle of October and the mountain foliage is making the striking transition to the color that brings so much attention here in the fall. Typically, the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences the much-anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October.
Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles north to south, meanders from the east to west facing slopes, and most importantly, varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at James River in Virginia, to over 6,000 feet south of Mt. 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 north-south orientation. Anyone who does this from now until mid to late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.
In the northern district of the Parkway there are pockets of good color throughout. A good mix of red, yellow, and green on most slopes including Maples, Sourgum, Dogwood, and Poplar trees. At the Peaks of Otter look for colorful Dogwood, Sourwood, Sumac, Sassafras, Tulip Poplar, and Birch.
Around the Blue Ridge Music Center near the NC / VA state line, there are splashes of yellow coming from the Birch, Tulip, and Fraser Magnolia. Some patches of red are showing on the Maples as well.
In North Carolina, we have reports of some nice color in the Boone / Blowing Rock area at Milepost 279, 284, 291 to 295, and Milepost 306. North of Asheville, Craggy Gardens has already passed its peak of color but the high elevation overlooks are beautiful right now as you can look out at the changing colors below you.
Driving from Asheville to the Mt. Pisgah area, fall color can be seen in the changing Maple, Dogwood, Sourwood, Sassafras, and Oak trees. Mount Pisgah should be at its peak now.
At the southern end of the Parkway, the higher elevations have generally reached their peak but the long-range views still have nice color.
Enjoy October in the mountains. Check out the fall festivals in our neighboring towns. Drive carefully while on the Parkway. Keep your eyes on the road as you enjoy the view!
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.