Well, October has arrived. We know it by the very cool nights and a few of the crisp days that define the months along the Blue Ridge. We also know it is October because the color we’re famous for is beginning to show especially in the higher elevations.
Fall is still a time for wildflower displays. Goldenrod and Asters are along the roadside with fall blooms such as Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Joe-Pye Weed, and the orange Turk’s-cap Lily. It’s a wonderful time of year for many meadows and roadsides to show off the last of the year’s blooms.
In Virginia the Peaks of Otter is reporting color in Tulip Poplar, Dogwood, and Sourwood on the mountainside. A variety of Oaks and Mountain Ash are also showing fall colors. The Rocky Knob and Mabry Mill area are probably at peak color this coming weekend. Dogwood and Poplar are also pretty, along with Sassafras along the roadsides in the area of the Blue Ridge Music Center. This weekend will probably be the peak of color there.
Color has really changed rapidly in the Grandfather Mountain corridor over the past few days. Peak color seems to be happening just about now. The Stack Rock area near Grandfather Mountain is coloring up nicely. Sugar and Red Maples at Bass Lake, Sourwood varieties, Oaks, Tulip Poplar, and Dogwoods are all coloring up along this part of the Parkway.
High up on the sides of Mount Mitchell north of Asheville, visitors will also see some color showing nicely. The area south of Asheville is one of the highlights now with graveyard fields turning peak after a cold night in recent days. This is by far the best place to see good color along the southern end of the Parkway. A few of the higher elevations around Devil’s Courthouse, Richland Balsam and more are about 50% right now while the rest of the Parkway south of there is about 30%-40% color. Still a nice drive with enough color to show that fall is finally here.
Right now the color seems to be peaking a little late in the Parkway. Sometimes it will hang on a little late into November in the lower elevations, depending on the weather. Storms or heavy rain can bring down leaves. Elevation can also make a difference, along with north/south orientation and east/west facing slopes. The best opportunity to see color is to drive a good distance along 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 tempt you to take your eyes off the road. Be especially careful and use the overlooks for resting and taking in the scenery. Enjoy the view, but watch the road.
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.