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Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Color Report

Weekly fall color report from the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Photo by Todd Bush

Oct. 5, 2012. October is upon us and the mountain foliage, true to form, is beginning to make the transition to the colors that bring so much attention here in the fall. Typically, the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences the much anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October. Many factors however contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. 

The Parkway stretches almost 500 miles north to south, meanders from the 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. A far better plan is to drive some distance on the Parkway, changing elevations, and north-south orientation. Anyone who does this from now until mid to late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.

In Virginia the colors are underway. The Peaks of Otter area is reporting fall colors in the Black Cherry, Black Gum, Black Walnut, Box Elder, Choke Cherry, Dogwood, Mountain Ash, Red Maple, Sassafras, Paradise, Shag Bark Hickory, Sourwood, Striped Maple, Sweet Birch, Tulip Poplar, and White Ash trees, as well as in the wild Grapevines, Winged Sumac, Poison Ivy, and Virginia Creeper. 

In North Carolina, we have reports that Bass Lake near the Moses Cone Manor House is producing some of the most dramatic color in the area. There is also some nice color at Price Lake, as well as around Milepost 297 to 299, and Milepost 301 to 305. Goldenrod, Bull Thistle, and Asters are also still blooming in the area.

The high elevation of Craggy Gardens is well underway with its fall color, showing reds and yellows, as the Yellow Buckeye, Maple, Beech, and Mountain Ash trees start to turn.

Driving from Asheville to the Mt. Pisgah area, fall color can be seen in the changing Red Oak, Tulip Poplar, Dogwoods, Maples, Sassafras, Poison Ivy, and Virginia Creeper. 

At the southern end of the Parkway the rain and wind of the last few days has left a lot of leaves on the ground. Pisgah is still mostly green but is showing signs of color with yellows and reds starting to pop out.

Graveyard Fields is at its peak and will most likely be past peak by the coming weekend.

The rest of the Parkway’s southern end is showing color between 25 and 40 percent in the lower elevations, to about 40 to 60 percent in the higher elevations.

There is going to be some nice color to look at this weekend if the weather holds. As always, we remind you to drive carefully while on the Parkway. Keep your eyes on the road as you enjoy the view!

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. 

For more nature and science information, visit our virtual resource center, http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway/general/nature.asp, which will provide you with much more information.