Early October brings 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 Sunflowers, 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. In Virginia the fall color is dependent as always on elevation. Dogwood is turning a nice red-wine color. As the visitors travel south of Roanoke up onto the high plateau, there is an increasing amount of color with a few Maples turning red, and just a few Tulip Poplars turning yellow as well. Sourwoods are making a slow transition to dark red-purple. Ash trees around Mabry Mill have started to make their change. Oaks are a little slower in their transitions. Overall, the estimate is that peak color is more than a week away. In the Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain area, Dogwood and Frasier Magnolia and Sugar Maples are starting to turn their colors as well. The big color view now is the rapid onset of peak color in the high elevations above 5000 feet just north and south of Asheville, NC. At Waterrock Knob, Graveyard Fields, Mt. Pisgah, all of these are peak color right now. After the severe heat and drought conditions such as those of this summer, leaf color can be just as brilliant, but very short-lived, so catch the good color areas as soon as possible. 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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