October 16, 2009
We're right in the middle of October and that means fall color season to thousands of Parkway travelers. But don't neglect the great displays along the road, the signs of fall harvest, with fields of pumpkin and cabbage and corn growing right up to the edge of the roadway in many places.
Parkway meadows are also filled this time of year with Coreopsis and Black Eyed Susan, Queen Anne's Lace, Butterfly Weed, Joe Pye Weed and Coneflower. All of those late summer and fall blooms that fill the roadside with color.
Typically, the Parkway experiences that much anticipated change in fall color around the middle of October. Many factors however contribute to variations in when and where that color will peak. The Parkway stretches 500 miles north to south. It meanders from 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. It’s a far better plan to drive some distance on the Parkway, change elevations and your north/south orientation. If you do that around mid to late October you will catch at least some of the pretty color we are famous for.
Rain and wind unfortunately have brought down many leaves along the ridge tops here in the last week or so and along high elevations. Here in the very latest reports for some of the popular stops along the motor road. Bright colors of fall are still present throughout the northern section of the Parkway, Dogwoods assuming that rusty red and Tulip Popular displaying bright yellows. Maples and Oaks are in the earliest stages of color. Sumac and Sourwood are displaying red foliage.
A lot of bright red on the rocks in the northern end of the Parkway as the Virginia Creeper is at its peak. Leaves in the Rocky Knob/Mabry Mill area are at their peak right now although a lot of those leaves have come down with the rain and windy weather this week. There are still some trees that haven't even changed yet, mostly Oaks so you can look for those over the weeks to come.
Maples, Sourwoods, Red Sassafras are showing good fall color peak from about Grandfather to Linville Falls in North Carolina. Driving near Crabtree Meadows some nice color is visible along the road and at all the overlooks. Going towards Linville Falls from Chestoa View there's some nice color to be seen all along the Parkway and from all of the overlooks through that section, probably about one third of the way toward the actual peak color.
Expect good color on display north of Asheville towards Craggy Gardens with the pinnacle at Craggy showing some rusty red of Mountain Ash and the golden color of the Beech Tree. North of Mt. Mitchell about 50% color last week so it should be peaking right now. Some color showing in Asheville but nothing remarkable as of yet, typical Sourwood and Dogwood rust color is showing.
Busy time on the Parkway so watch out for those built in distractions like great views, wildlife, extra traffic and bicyclists. Have a safe parkway visit! 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.
Click here for a list of Blue Ridge Parkway tree species and their colors.
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