October has arrived here in the Blue Ridge and we know it by those very cool nights and those crisp days that define this month here in the mountains. Of course, we also know it’s October because the color we’re famous for is beginning to show, especially in the higher elevations. Fall is still a month for wildflower displays as Goldenrod and Aster are along the roadsides with fall blooms such as Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Joe-pye Weed, and the orange Turk’s-cap Lily. This is 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 the northern sections of the Parkway. Dogwoods are assuming their rusty red, Tulip Poplars are displaying some yellow colors, Maples are in early stages of color, and Sumacs and Sourwood are also displaying lots of red foliage in the woods. Lots of bright red Virginia Creeper is at its peak at the northern end of the Parkway, spreading across rocks on the roadsides. Leaving the lower elevations toward Roanoke, heading south toward the high plateau or north toward the Peaks of Otter, there are some Dogwood and Virginia Creeper showing bright red. Maples and Poplars are beginning to turn. These changes will take place on a daily basis headed for that mid-month peak.
In the North Carolina sections of the Parkway around Grandfather Mountain, there is some color at Sim’s Pond, milepost 295, and at Bass Lake on the Moses Cone Estate. A slight change is also reported for the Craggy Gardens area north of Asheville. But fall color has arrived in earnest at Graveyard Fields at about milepost 420 south of Asheville. The report is that color there is about 50 percent. Mount Pisgah has some really nice Mountain Asheshowing their red berries, and from Pisgah south to Cherokee, there are splashes of color all along the way.
Bright red Maples and some yellow colors are starting to show as well. Panoramic views from Richland Balsam overlook or Waterrock Knob between milepost 430 and 450 are worth the drive. Sunflowers, Goldenrod and Asters, are all showing up in the high elevations.
Typically the parkway experiences the turning of leaves during the middle couple weeks of October that hang on later on into the month, perhaps even into November, depending on the weather. Elevation makes a difference, along with your north/south orientation and your east/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 keep your eyes off the road, so be especially careful. Use the overlooks and rest stops for resting and taking in the scenery. 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.
Have a safe parkway visit! Enjoy the view, but watch the road.