This is the Fall Color Report for October 17th. October weekends are among the busiest times here on the Parkway and if at all possible plan your trip for weekdays and the crowds will be much smaller. Use the many overlooks to pull off and get that photo or take in the scene. Enjoy the view, but watch the road. Fields of wildflowers are still dominating many areas as Sunflowers, Ironweed, Goldenrod, Beebalm and Joe-Pye Weed light up the roadsides, especially in the agricultural lands adjacent to the Parkway. Row crops of pumpkins and cabbage and corn are reminders as well of the agricultural heritage of this part of the country. South of Roanoke, Virginia through the Rocky Knob and Mabry Mill area Locust is nice and rusty colored and the Dogwood is taking on its full red-wine color. Maples are varying from about 25-50% full color and a few Tulip Poplars have a brilliant yellow on their low-lying branches. Sourwoods are showing some change as well. All in all, this area seems to be a about week or more away from full color. In the Parkway’s highest elevations in NC, especially South of Asheville, the temperature dipped down close to freezing two days last week and the color change around the 4,500 foot elevation is expected to come on fast. As has been reported for a week or two, the 5,000 foot elevation such as Richland-Balsalm, Graveyard Fields, and Waterrock Knob are very bright, although past peak color at this time. After severe heat and drought conditions such as those of this summer, leaf color can be just as brilliant, but short-lived, so catch the good color areas as soon as possible.
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